Poisoned for Profit: We Are Not the Agrochemical Industry’s Guinea Pigs

disident

by Colin Todhunter / July 27th, 2019

Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has just written to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Chemicals Regulation Division (HSE) in the UK claiming that the glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup has poisoned her nature reserve in South Wales and is also poisoning people across the UK (she includes herself here, as she struggles with a neurodegenerative condition). She notes that the widespread spraying of glyphosate went against the advice of directive 2009/128/EC of the European parliament but was carried out at the behest of the agrochemicals industry.

Mason has sent a 24-page fully referenced document with her letter in support of her claims. It can be accessed in full here. What follows is a brief summary of just a few of the take-home points. There is a lot more in Mason’s document, much of which touches on issues she has previously covered but which nonetheless remain relevant.

The thrust of her open letter to these agencies is that glyphosate is a major contributory factor in spiralling rates of disease and conditions affecting the UK population. She also makes it clear that official narratives — pushed by the pesticides industry, the media and various key agencies — have deliberately downplayed or ignored the role of agrochemicals in this. Instead, the focus has been on the role of alcohol use and obesity, conveniently placing the blame on individual behaviour and the failure of people to opt for ‘healthy lifestyle’ choices.

Mason argues that Monsanto emails released into the public domain have revealed that Roundup was kept on the market by capturing regulatory agencies, corrupting public officials, bribing scientists and engaging in scientific fraud. In addition, she notes that documents show that the European Commission bowed to the demands of pesticide lobbies. Former PM David Cameron, Defra, the European Food Safety Authority, the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency all ignored the warnings that GM crops and Roundup were hazardous to human health and the environment.

In the run-up to the relicensing of glyphosate in the EU, Mason states that in its analysis the Glyphosate Task Force omitted key studies from South America (where herbicide-tolerant GM crops are grown) that associate Roundup with cancer, birth defects, infertility, DNA damage and neurotoxicity. She refers to many studies in support of her claim that glyphosate is deleterious to human health and the environment. It is worth noting that the European Chemicals Agency has classified glyphosate as a substance causing serious eye damage and toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.

Mason reserves a special place for Cancer Research UK (CRUK) in her letter, saying that the agency has been hi-jacked by the pesticides industry and has persuaded key figures in the medical establishment to repeat certain claims: that alcohol, cigarette smoking and obesity are the main causes of cancer. She argues that Monsanto and the US EPA have known for a long time that Roundup is carcinogenic.

CRUK recently made a bold statement about its vision to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. However, Mason asserts this is fantasy for public consumption. She argues there are a huge number of cancers in the UK and their prevalence is increasing each year in tandem with the rising use of glyphosate and other agrochemicals.

Mason provides the statistics:

In the UK, there were 13,605 new cases of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2015 (and 4,920 deaths in 2016): there were 41,804 new cases of bowel cancer in 2015 (and 16,384 deaths in 2016); 12,547 new cases of kidney cancer in 2015 (and 4,619 deaths in 2016); 5,736 new cases of liver cancer in 2015 (5,417 deaths in 2016); 15,906 new cases of melanoma in 2015 (2,285 deaths in 2016); 3,528 new cases of thyroid cancer in 2015 (382 deaths in 2016); 10,171 new cases of bladder cancer in 2015 (5,383 deaths in 2016); 8,984 new cases of uterine cancer in 2015 (2,360 deaths in 2016); 7,270 cases of ovarian cancer in 2015 (4,227 deaths in 2016); 9,900 new cases of leukaemia in 2015 (4,712 deaths in 2016); 55,122 new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2015 (11,563 deaths in 2016); 47,151 new cases of prostate cancer in 2015 (11,631 deaths in 2016); 9,211 new cases of oesophageal cancer in 2015 (8,004 deaths in 2016); and 5,540 new cases of myeloma in 2015 (3,079 deaths in 2016); 2,288 new cases of testicular cancer in 2015 (57 deaths in 2016); 9,921 new cases of pancreatic cancer in 2015 (9,263 deaths in 2016); 11,432 new cases of brain cancer in 2015 (5,250 deaths in 2016); 46,388 new cases of lung cancer in 2015 (and 35,620 deaths in 2016). In the US in 2014 there were 24,050 new cases of myeloma.

Arguing that UK farmers are “drowning” their crops in pesticides, Mason notes that it is therefore not surprising that Pesticide Action Network UK’s analysis of the last 12 years of residue data (published by the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food) shows there are unacceptable levels of pesticides present in the food provided through the Department of Health’s (DoH) School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS).

Residues of 123 different pesticides were found, some of which are linked to serious health problems such as cancer and disruption of the hormone system. Moreover, residues contained on SFVS produce were higher than those in produce tested under the national residue testing scheme (mainstream produce found on supermarket shelves). However, Mason says that when PAN-UK sent its findings to the DOH, the agency was told that pesticides are not the concern of the DoH.

Perhaps they should be, given what Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, stated in 2017:

Our children are growing up exposed to a toxic cocktail of weed killers, insecticides and fungicides. It’s on their food and in their water, and it’s even doused over their parks and playgrounds. Many governments insist that our standards of protection from these pesticides are strong enough. But as a scientist and a lawyer who specialises in chemicals and their potential impact on people’s fundamental rights, I beg to differ.

He added:

Paediatricians have referred to childhood exposure to pesticides as creating a ‘silent pandemic’ of disease and disability. Exposure in pregnancy and childhood is linked to birth defects, diabetes, and cancer. Because a child’s developing body is more sensitive to exposure than adults and takes in more of everything – relative to their size, children eat, breathe, and drink much more than adults – they are particularly vulnerable to these toxic chemicals. Increasing evidence shows that even at ‘low’ doses of childhood exposure, irreversible health impacts can result.

Tuncak says that most victims cannot prove the cause of their disability or disease and this limits our ability to hold those responsible to account. But this is changing. The public is becoming increasingly aware of the industry’s criminal strategy for keeping Roundup on the market, thanks to the various high-profile litigations in the US. Maybe it’s time for the (taxpayer-funded) agencies Rosemary Mason has continually written to over the years to finally act in the public interest. Or would that be too much to expect?

In finishing, we should take note of the current orchestrated campaign (cheer-led by those outside of India with industry links) to get herbicide-tolerant seeds planted in India. Aside from Bt cotton, GM crops are not allowed in the country. This cynical campaign is aimed at increasing GM seed, glyphosate and other toxic agrochemical sales. Given increasingly saturated markets elsewhere, the global GM seed and herbicide industry regards India as a massive potential money spinner.

However, Punjab took the lead in 2018 and banned glyphosate. Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have since followed. But there is still no nationwide ban. With this in mind, author and academic Ashwani Mahajan has started a petition campaign (here) to stop the use of glyphosate in India.

He says that pesticide companies are taking advantage of farmers’ ignorance about the deadly risks associated with glyphosate. Mahajan notes that industry is sending its agents to approach farmers directly and trap them with attractive promotional offers. This is part of a wider strategy to get farmers to break with effective traditional practices and lure them onto agrochemical (and GMO) treadmills as described in the 2017 paper The Ox Fall Down: Path Breaking and Technology Treadmills in Indian Cotton Agriculture (Glenn Stone and Andrew Flachs).

Farmers are being subjected to slick PR and lured because they are told this herbicide is a cost-effective method to kill weeds quickly. What they are not told is that its effectiveness is limited, that it’s a health and environmental hazard and that it’s a risk to their lives. But it’s not just farmers’ lives that are at risk. We just need to look at the statistics provided earlier in this article to realise the risk to the wider public health.

EWG Calls on CDC To Monitor US Population for Monsanto’s Weedkiller Glyphosate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2019  by  Alex Formuzis

WASHINGTON – Glyphosate, the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S., should be added to the list of toxic chemicals the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly measures in the bodies of the American people, Environmental Working Group said in a letter sent today to the CDC.

A growing body of research has found that Americans, including children, are exposed to glyphosate through food sprayed with the weedkiller, and from air and water because of the widespread presence of glyphosate in the environment.

A University of California biomonitoring study of more than 1,000 older adults in Southern California found that at least 70 percent had detectable traces of glyphosate in their bodies between 2014 and 2017. That compared to just 12 percent of participants tested between 1993 and 1996, EWG said in the letter to CDC.

The dramatic increase in exposure among the participants in the California study aligns with the growing amount of glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup – sprayed on cropland since the mid-1990s. More than 250 million pounds were sprayed in 2016.

Most glyphosate used in agriculture is applied on Roundup-ready corn and on soybeans genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. Increasingly, however, glyphosate is used on non-GMO wheat, barley, oats and beans. The herbicide kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner. EWG has conducted three rounds of tests of popular oat-based cereals and snack foods marketed toward kids, and found glyphosate in nearly every sample of food.

recent review of 19 studies of the evidence of human exposure to glyphosate globally, led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, highlighted the limitations of currently available data and concluded that additional studies are urgently needed.

In the letter, EWG urged the CDC to address the lack of nationwide biomonitoring studies of glyphosate, especially exposure of young children. “The EPA’s dietary risk assessments indicate that children one to two years old likely have the highest exposure levels, comparable with EPA estimates of exposure in occupational settings – and yet real-life data on infants’ and children’s exposure to glyphosate are missing,” EWG wrote.

Some of the most recent scientific research suggests that glyphosate exposure during pregnancy can harm the developing fetus as well as the health of newborns and young children.

In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” to people. In 2017, the herbicide was listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer.

“A national biomonitoring effort will give epidemiologists the opportunity to study the health effects associated with glyphosate exposure,” wrote Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG, and Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., an EWG toxicologist.

EWG###

How much evidence is needed ? Study released on effects of low dose pesticide poisoning…NYC

 

April 5, 2016 | by Michael Howell | Bitterroot Star

Local wildlife rehabilitator Judy Hoy is one of the authors cited in a study recently published in the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine which claims to demonstrate that even low doses of glyphosates, a chemical ingredient in many pesticides, can be considered a serious health problem. Lead author of the study is Nancy Swanson, PhD from Abacus Enterprises in Washington state, and Stephanie Seneff, from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. The article is entitled: “Evidence that glyphosate is a causative agent in chronic sub-clinical metabolic acidosis and mitochondrial dysfunction.”

The article claims that it is a well-established fact that ingesting large amounts of glyphosate causes metabolic acidosis and other pathophysiologic changes. Clinical signs of acute glyphosate poisoning include severe acidosis determined by low blood pH, hyperkalemia, hypernatremia, raised creatinine and blood urea levels, hypotension, hypoxemia and reduced serum bicarbonate. Severe poisoning causes dehydration, pneumonitis, oliguria, altered level of consciousness, hepatic dysfunction, pulmonary edema and dysrhythmias 1, 2, 3.

The authors go on to claim, however, that available scientific reports and records from the CDC examined and compared in their study provide overwhelming “circumstantial evidence” that ingestion of glyphosates in low doses also has serious health effects which are being overlooked in toxicology evaluations and public policy.

“How much evidence is needed?” they ask in the article.

“Taken together, this evidence suggests that glyphosate, in the doses equivalent to allowed residues in food ingested over a long period of time, causes a low-grade, chronic acidosis as well as mitochondrial dysfunction,” states the study.

They also provide evidence from the literature supporting the biochemical pathways whereby this occurs by extracting the reports for symptoms and diseases associated with glyphosate from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Adverse Event Reporting System database. These are compared to the symptoms and diseases reported in the database for drugs that are known to cause mitochondrial dysfunction. They call the results “startlingly consistent.”

Finally, they hypothesize that many modern diseases are primarily acquired mitochondrial disorders caused by chemical pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs, food additives and industrial chemicals.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Disturbing Map of NYC Parks/Public Areas shows Roundup herbicide Glyphosate INCREASING

February 23, 2016 | by Julie M. Rodriguez |  Inhabitat.com

Bad news, New Yorkers — if you like to take long walks or pay visits to your local park, you’ve probably been exposed to glyphosate, the cancer-linked main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. In response to concerned citizen groups, the New York City government released a report last year detailing pesticide use by its agencies. And now, if you’d like to see whether you’re at risk, Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir have created a disturbing new map that charts every park and public area known to be treated with the toxic compound. You can view the map here.

The data shows that in 2014 alone, the city applied glyphosate 2,748 times within the city. While the recent numbers are alarming enough all on their own, what’s even worse is the fact that glyphosate use within the city seems to be increasing — the amount sprayed jumped 16% from 2013 to 2014.

Why is NYC drenching its parks in a chemical that World Health Organization classes as a probable carcinogen? Studies have repeatedly linked the herbicide to cancer dating back to the 1980s, and farmers have even filed suit against Monsanto alleging that exposure to glyphosate caused them to develop the disease. The company, naturally, has fought back against this research by suing states that try to regulate the use of the herbicide.

glyphosate, pesticide, herbicide, roundup, monsanto, roundup cancer link, new york city, nyc, roundup spraying

 

Glyphosate is BANNED in France, Netherlands, Bermuda and Sri Lanka.  Switzerland and Germany begin to REFUSE stocking Roundup.

While cities like NYC and San Francisco may have no problem with spraying this controversial chemical all over their streets, other governments are beginning to crack down on glyphosate use. France has banned the sale of the herbicide over the counter, along with the Netherlands, Bermuda, and Sri Lanka. In Switzerland and Germany, major retailers have begun refusing to stock Roundup even in the absence of government regulation. The evidence of Roundup’s toxic effects is strong enough for the leaders of these nations and corporations to pull it from the shelves, and New York City needs to stand up and take note.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Frequent cases of lung, breast and bowel cancer through GLYPHOSATE…number of miscarriages risen sharply…strong rise in number of birth defects in these areas

Independent Scientists Warn Over Monsanto Pesticide – Glyphosate

January 12, 2015 | By Gero Rueter and Ruby Russell | DW.com

Two major agencies disagree over whether the world’s most-used pesticide, glyphosate, is safe.  As the European Union debates the topic, nearly 100 scientists from around the world have urged it to heed safety warnings.

It’s the most commonly used – and perhaps also most controversial – pesticide in the world: glyphosate. Opinion between the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) is divided over whether it likely causes cancer.

And on Tuesday (01.12.2015), the European Parliament debated the topic. In the leadup to each side presenting their positions, 96 scientists from 25 countries published an open letter to EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, criticizing the EFSA’s recent decision that the chemical is “probably not carcinogenic.”

The EFSA’s finding counters an assessment earlier this year by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.”

In their letter, the scientists called on the European Commission “to disregard the flawed EFSA finding on glyphosate,” and called for a “transparent, open and credible review of the scientific literature.”

Bad science?

The EFSA’s decision was based on assessment by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), which the signatories to the letter said was “not credible because it is not supported by the evidence, and it was not reached in an open and transparent manner.”

Protest in Berlin against the glyphosate

All over the world, environmental activists have called for a ban on glyphosate pesticide

The scientists called the IARC’s assessment more credible. The lead signatory of the letter, Christopher Portier, told DW that the scientists felt compelled to submit their letter because, “as a group, we thought that decision was not supported scientifically.”

“It was based on a rejection of what other experts judge to be a positive association between glyphosate and cancer in humans,” Portier said.

Portier is senior contributing scientist at the Envrionmental Defense, and former associate director of the United States National Toxicology Program.

The group from the letter also includes scientists specializing in cancer, epidemiology and public health at major universities and cancer research institutes around the world – although they stressed that they were not speaking on behalf of these organizations.

Doctors report rise in cancer

Glyphosate was developed by transnational chemical company Monsanto, and is the key ingredient in its pesticide Roundup. Glyphosate is also sold by other major corporations including Syngenta and Bayer.

Doctors, environmentalists and some farmers have long called for a ban on the pesticide.

 Medardo Avila Vazquez (c) Gero Reuter

Argentine pediatrician Medardo Avila Vazquez believes there is a clear link between glyphosate and cancer in humans.

“We can clearly see that people are getting sick from glyphosate,” Argentine pediatrician Medardo Avila Vazquez told DW in a recent interview.  “There are frequent cases of lung, breast and bowel cancer” through glyphosate, he added.

Vazquez, a pharmacologist who has carried out epidemiological studies in Argentina, added that cancer was not the only concern.

“In villages surrounded by soy fields, where lots of glyphosate is sprayed, we note that the number of miscarriages has risen sharply,” he said. “There is also a strong rise in the number in birth defects in these areas.”

Quality over quantity

Speaking to the European Parliament on Tuesday, the EFSA said that it had reached its assessment based on a larger number of studies that the IARC did not include. EFSA director Bernhard Url told lawmakers it was “the most state-of-the-art and comprehensive assessment to date.”

The IARC countered that it went “for quality over quantity,” and looked at a narrower range of peer-reviewed studies by excluding those not in the public domain, and which are therefore unavailable to review and criticism by other scientists.

The IARC also stressed that scientists selected for its assessment process were neutral, and lacked any conflict of interest.

Before the end of June 2016, the European Commission is to make a decision on whether or not to relicense glyphosate in the EU, for up to 15 years.

Ongoing debate

Parliamentarians and European Commissioners stressed a responsibility to public health in proper assessment of the chemical’s impacts, and the intention to issue an appropriate ruling in response.

Also present in public discussion are warnings of a potential fall in crop yields if approval for the pesticide, which European agriculture is heavily dependent upon, were to be withdrawn.

Portier says he hopes the UN will reconsider how it assesses chemicals.

“We hope this letter improves the ways pesticides are reviewed in the future,” he told DW.

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