Sri Lanka to enforce ban on herbicide glyphosate

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has confirmed a decision by President Maithripala Sirisena to ban the import of glyphosate, a widely used herbicide linked to kidney disease, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.

Senaratne said Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake had submitted his view about letters credit already opened by importers to bring Glysophate and containers in port, but the Cabinet of Ministers on had decided to destroy all the stocks.

"The cabinet decided not to release them but to destroy them," Health Minister Senaratne said.

Senaratne said if they can the container could be re-exported without being released into the country.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Round Up, a popular herbicide originally developed by US-based Monsanto. But China has now become the largest producer and exporter.

A research study has linked the wide use of the chemical to increased incidence of mysterious kidney disease, Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown etiology (CKDu) which seems to mainly strike male agricultural workers in hot tropical climates.

The researchers suggested that glyphosate was dissolving heavy metals in the ground which was then carried from water to people who were getting sick.

The study was published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, an open access journal whose publisher, MDPI, is controversial.

No animal studies were done to prove the theory.

"According to the prevailing Buddhist philosophical values within the country, no animal models were used in the current study," the researchers said.

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But other studies have also raised concerns about the effects of glyphosate, as its use became more widespread.

A recent World Health Organization study said glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans" (a category 2A cancer causing substance) along with malathion which is used in Sri Lanka to combat dengue carrying mosquitoes.

Sri Lanka’s rulers also subsidize fertilizer, in a classic European-style agrarianist philosophy, which has raised concerns of overuse.

Phosphate fertilizer in particular is considered a key source of arsenic and heavy metals.

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