Sri Lanka to relax glyphosate weedicide ban: report

ECONOMYNEXT – A ban on glyphosate, a widely used weedicide, imposed on the belief that it may contribute to chronic kidney disease will be relaxed to allow the tea farming sector to use it, a report said.

Plantations Minister Navin Dissanayake had told Sri Lanka’s Planters’ Association, a groping of senior managers of tea farms, that the ban will be relaxed, The Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The tea sector will be allowed to import glysophate, following discussions with President Maithripala, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and related parties, the report said.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena banned the import of glysophate, after a theory was put forward that it was responsible for chronic kidney disease in mostly rice growing areas in the country.

However no animal studies were done to prove the theory, which the researchers said was because Sri Lanka was a country where most were followers of Bhuddism.

There have been no reports of tea workers being affected by kidney disease in a large scale in Sri Lanka yet. Factors including heat stress, dehydration in combination with mis-use of agricultural chemicals have been linked to the disease in other countries.

Similar chronic kidney diseases whose origin remains a mystery have cropped up in Andra Pradesh, some Central American countries and Egypt.

A World Health Organization arm that looks at cancer has said in 2015 that glysophate was probably carcinogenic (category 2B substance) to humans, along with malathion which is sprayed in households in Sri Lanka to kill mosquitoes, following an animal study which found links, though other studies have given mixed results.

However glysophate has become widely used. (Colombo/Sept19/2016 – Update II)