Glyphosate, Now Enough!

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We have already taken stock of glyphosate, the most widely used pesticide globally to which are attributed dangerous effects of endocrine disruption and infertility, carcinogenesis and DNA damage, fetal malformations, neurotoxicity, and promotion of antibiotic resistance (1). We denounced the indifference of the European Commission and the German federal authority, delegated by it to re-evaluate the risk associated with the use of glyphosate, with respect to the authoritative studies that have highlighted its dangerousness to workers and consumers, the environment and animals. Highlighting also how the most serious dangers were already known since the 1980s, albeit hushed up thanks to the powerful lobbies of the multinational corporations involved. But there is more; scientific and civil society are beginning to react. Let’s see how.

Exposure to the dangers of glyphosate is high in all countries that have not yet banned its use. The first to be exposed are farmers and those who maintain parks, gardens and vegetable gardens. Adults and minors-at least 260,000 under the age of 16 in the United States alone (2)-work in the fields without even employing the Personal Protective Equipment anyway necessary to limit integration of the poison with the human body. The danger then extends to populations living near plots where the pesticide is sprinkled in abundance. The Environmental Working Group recently published an interactive map where it shows the massive use of glyphosate on GMO fields near nearly 4,000 elementary schools in the US (3).

Contamination of soils, crops and groundwater is not accidental but systematic, and deliberate. Especially in the intensive cultivation of GMO soybeans, corn and cotton specially designed to resist ‘Round-up’. More than 90 percent of ‘Made in USA’ agricultural production, including wheat and potatoes, rice, peanuts, tomatoes, apples, oranges, and grapes are on the United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) top list for amounts of pesticides used (4). The situation is then further aggravated because of a crazy practice that has been widespread in the US since the 1990s, the late use of glyphosate just before threshing to increase yields (5).

The increasing prevalence of celiac disease in turn appears to be related to the high contamination of wheat with glyphosate (6). Dr. Stephanie Seneff, senior researcher at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), had already published several studies on the correlation between glyphosate and increased recurrence of a variety of diseases, including neurotoxicity and autism (7). And she finally came to show that glyphosate damages intestinal villi–reducing the gut’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals–and binds with gliadin, one of the protein fractions of gluten (8), in a chemical reaction that severely hampers its digestibility. “The end result is that your body develops an immune reaction” (9), concludes the MIT research, “glyphosate appears to be strongly correlated with the rise in celiac disease” (10).

Hopes, indifference, and reactions. Russia permanently banned the cultivation and import of GMOs, the primary cause of ‘Round-up’ pollution, back in 2014 (11). But in Europe, the Commission continues to ignore (12) the new risks that have emerged in relation to glyphosate, rather than-as it should suspend its authorization pending new scientific assessments (13). Worse still, on May 6, 2015, European Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis responded to Greenpeace that he had no intention of speeding up the deadlines for reviewing the pesticide’s license, which had already expired in 2012, were postponed until late 2015, and could slip further forward (14). On May 8, among other things, German state ministers with responsibility for public health adopted a resolution to ban the sale of gardening products containing glyphosate and ban its use near housing areas. They also urged the federal authority to urgently re-evaluate the ‘Round-Up’ risk in light of the latest scientific studies mentioned in paragraph (15) below,

on May 14, 2015, the ‘International Society of Doctors for the Environment’ (ISDE) wrote an open letter, to the President of the European Parliament Martin Shultz, the European Commission and its directors-general for Consumer Health and Food Safety, Agriculture and Environment, and Internal Market (16). Calling loudly for an immediate and permanent ban on the marketing and use in Europe of glyphosate and herbicides containing glyphosate and the four other pesticides that the International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO, classified as potentially carcinogenic on March 20, 2015 (17),

1.4 million signatures have been collected to date on the PETITION launched on Avaaz, which we urge all our readers to sign. The appeal is addressed to the Authorities, Ministries and legislators of the European Union, the United States, Canada and Brazil to use the precautionary principle to immediately suspend the permits for the use and sale of glyphosate (18). Meanwhile, some large retail chains in Germany, Switzerland and Italy have begun to suspend the sale of herbicides containing the dangerous poison (19).

(Dario Dongo)

Notes:

(1) “Increasingly common chemicals used in agriculture, domestic gardens, and public places can induce a multiple-antibiotic resistance phenotype in potential pathogens. The effect occurs upon simultaneous exposure to antibiotics and is faster than the lethal effect of antibiotics. The magnitude of the induced response may undermine antibiotic therapy and substantially increase the probability of spontaneous mutation to higher levels of resistance.” http://mbio.asm.org/content/6/2/e00009-15

(2) http://civileats.com/2015/05/13/children-are-harvesting-your-food-are-they-safe

(3) http://www.ewg.org/agmag/2015/05/monsanto-s-glyphosate-blankets-gmo-crops-near-schools

(4) http://civileats.com/2015/03/16/how-europes-regulation-of-pesticides-could-impact-your-food

(5) http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/faq7206?opendocument

(6) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/09/14/glyphosate-celiac-disease-connection.aspx

(7) interview Dr. Stephanie Seneff on the link between glyphosate and autism, 9/16/14, at http://youtu.be/BIC58VpYE4A

(8) http://www.celiachia.it/Aic/AIC.aspx?SS=351&M=368

(9) “Gut dysbiosis, brought on by exposure to glyphosate, plays a crucial role in the development of celiac disease. Many CYP enzymes are impaired in association with celiac disease, and we show that glyphosate’s known suppression of CYP enzyme activity in plants and animals plausibly explains this effect in humans.”

(10) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945755

(11) http://youtu.be/GGSNtGMiFp8. Land in neighboring Ukraine, another major grain exporter, on the other hand, is already largely in the hands of U.S. investors who are sure to get busy growing glyphosate-resistant GMOs. Cf. http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24880

(12) https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/food-times/armi-di-distruzione-di-massa-il-glifosato

(13) In fact, the so-called precautionary principle, which inspires European environmental and agri-food policies, provides for the adoption of effective and timely safeguard measures when the available scientific data do not allow risks to the environment, human and animal health to be ruled out. See http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/?uri=URISERV:l32042

(14) http://planetark.org/wen/73202

(15) It should be noted well that the ‘Federal Institute for Risk Analysis’ (BfR), repeatedly urged to review the dossier, still in summer 2014 had declared the toxicity of glyphosate ‘relatively low’ (!). See http://www.euractiv.de/sections/ge sundheit-und-verbraucherschutz/pflanzenschutzmittel-glyphosat-bundeslaender-fordern-eu, https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/german-states-call-ban-monsantos-glyphosate

(16) http://www.isde.org/Appeal_glyphosate_IARC.pdf

(17) ‘International Agency for Research on Cancer’ (IARC), an agency of the ‘World Health Organization’ (WHO). The report is based on three large epidemiological studies conducted in the US, Canada and Sweden. Cf. http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf

(18) For other ongoing petitions, see footnote 8 to the previous editorial, at https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/food-times/armi-di-distruzione-di-massa-il-glifosato

(19) http://www.ilfattoalimentare.it/glifosato-ritiri-volontari-svizzera.html

-> A documentary on the subject can be viewed at http://feedtheworld.info/documentary-trailer