Glyphosate is repeatedly described as the “most popular herbicide ever” by those who ignorantly and blindly believe in the marketing scam conducted by the manufacturers. Glyphosate is popular as judged by virtue of its unprecedented volume of sales. This popularity lies with only the profit oriented medium and large scale commercial farmers and that is due to the fact that the use of glyphosate eliminates a lot of work in weed control and time used on it. The herbicide is not expensive too. All three factors save money to profit oriented farmers for whom ethics and making a decent principled living is not a matter of concern.

However, that popularity with farmers is dying now because the use of glyphosate:

1. Is not healthy.

Many farmers and hired applicators who have sprayed glyphosate for over 20 years have developed a form of cancer called non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. Many have died of it. Affected persons and dependants of the dead are suing Monsanto for damages.

2. Does not ensure higher yields.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] has accepted that the yield of GMO corn (on which glyphosate is used heavily) is 54 bushels/acre compared to 56 bushels/acre for non-GMO corn. The difference is attributed to the lower mineral content caused by the strong chelating action of glyphosate on soil and plant minerals.

3. Does not ensure diminishing use of glyphosate.

Resistance by plants have resulted in the increasing use of glyphosate, in terms of frequency and quantity. Plants have developed resistance to glyphosate. These “Superweeds” have developed several shikimate pathways to circumvent the loss of the original natural one destroyed by glyphosate to kill the plant. They produce millions of seeds too. These plants have to be soaked individually with glyphosate to kill all the shikimate pathways they have. This is an exercise far worse than the weeding regime before the advent of glyphosate; this has to be done yearly because of new plants rising from the millions of seed; farmers cannot cope with it. What if this happens in our tea plantations? Can superweeds be killed one by one? How much will that cost? Can it be done every year?

4. Has caused abandonment of farms.

Currently over 70 million acres of farmland in the USA are virtually abandoned due to the growth of over 23 species of superweeds. They can be removed rather quickly only by ploughing deep using heavy machinery. Many farmers who cannot afford to do it yearly have either given up farming or sold their land cheaply. Monsanto has purchased large extents of such land.

Just as much as surviving profit oriented farmers love glyphosate herbicides, informed consumers and those who have suffered health hazards due to glyphosate hate it with a much greater intensity. They are in their several millions compared to the farmers in their hundreds of thousands. In the USA, the Organic Consumers Association [OCA] has over two million activists and “Moms Across America” has about a million activists – to name just two. In the European Union over 1.3 million people from member nations signed a petition strongly opposing relicensing glyphosate in 2016 and 2017. In 2016 too, a survey of the EU population indicated 2/3rds of the people against relicensing.

Health hazards of Glyphosate

The dangers from glyphosate are being exposed almost monthly now. After Monsanto’s research papers, and documents pertaining to cases filed against Monsanto, were released to public scrutiny in March 2015, many independent researchers, mostly in universities, have shown plenty of proof of glyphosate’s dangers. They are very different from Monsanto’s outdated and purposely misleading “doctored” 40 year old research. The “Monsanto Papers” can be accessed in the website of the prosecuting law firm Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman PC via the link “Whistle Blower Claims, Consumer Class Actions & Toxic Tort Law” and the sub-link “Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit”.

It is said that the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] of the USA requires US Dollars 800 million to carry out a proper and comprehensive testing of a chemical like glyphosate. Such testing is so far too expensive for independent researchers, and they get no return for that expenditure as would a glyphosate manufacturer.

Court action against contamination of food by Glyphosate

This is one reason why there is a dearth of independent research even now. Another is the claim of trade secrets by the manufacturer. However, that dearth is being now addressed on a wider scale, supported even by governments, because of popular unrest amongst consumers against forced consumption of food purposely contaminated with glyphosate. This opposition is far bigger than the biased or ignorant motley group that supports the use of glyphosate.

Consumers will stop buying contaminated vegetables and fruits as well as meat products made from animals raised on contaminated feed. It is happening now. Consumer organisations are fighting court cases too; there are over 1000 cases against Monsanto. Cases are being filed against the European Commission as well as its regulatory bodies the EFSA and the ECHA too.

It is a cause for sheer unbelieving wonder that there are still people who want to foist glyphosate on the Sri Lankan population. These are not ignorant uninformed people. These are educated as well as professional people like Professors, Doctorate holders and tea industry professionals. Probably in the case of the former it is a case of “education is not learning” and in the case of the latter it is a lack of intelligence and diligence to adapt to unavoidable situations.

Let us take the tea industry first. It is 30 months now since glyphosate was banned, but they are still crying for it. They had plenty of time to do a diligent study of the situation and adapt to it. But they still say the industry will die if they are not allowed to use glyphosate. On the contrary, they will destroy the industry for good if they continue to use glyphosate. The reason? Litigation by the two million strong OCA against glyphosate traces in tea! If the OCA wins the case, and indications are that they will, tea consumption will drop like a rock not just in the U.S.A. but all over the world.

The OCA has tested a tea sold in the market for glyphosate and found traces higher than the minimum permitted level in the EU. The importer/seller is claiming that the tea is natural. The OCA is contesting that claim by arguing that;

a. No tea can be natural if it contains an unnatural substance

b. The offered tea is not natural as it contains much less minerals than natural tea – owing to the strong chelating power of glyphosate reducing mineral intake by the plant.

c. Glyphosate is not a natural product. It is a patented chelator used to remove solid mineral salt deposits inside boiler and heat exchanger tubes.

d. Glyphosate traces in tea is a health hazard for billions of tea consumers world-wide.

These arguments cannot be denied. The contest here is “naturalness” not the health hazards of glyphosate. However, the news is already out to the world that tea is contaminated by glyphosate. That will start a boycott in the U.S.A. that will spread to Canada, the EU and the rest of the world.

President Putin of Russia is determined to make Russia the supplier of organic food to the world. Accordingly, Genetically Modified Organisms [GMOs} are already banned in Russia; glyphosate will be banned soon enough. It will have to be banned to produce organic food. In such a scenario they will not buy our tea if it is glyphosate contaminated. Our other main buyers will follow suit. Even we will stop drinking our own tea! The tea industry will then be starved to death, throwing about two million people dependent on tea production out of their livelihoods and burdening the government with a massive stranded asset.

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