ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s tea farm managers say a ban on the popular weedicide glyphosate without using scientific evidence, which ended after the intervention of plantation minister, has caused crop losses of 25 billion rupees over two years.
The Planters’ Association of Ceylon, which is made up of managers of large commercial tea, rubber and coconut farming companies said an estimated 15 billion rupees of crop was lost in 2015 due to the glyphosate ban, and 20 billion rupees in 2017.
Plantations Minister Navin Dissanayake played a key role "amidst a great deal of opposition" to overturn the glyphosate ban, the association said.
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena banned glyphosate fearing it was causing chronic kidney disease after some researchers published an interesting paper linking glyphosate with the disease, which is prevalent in hot rice growing regions of the island in particular.
"…[A]t least now we can begin the difficult but necessary work to reverse the serious damage done to our estates as a result of the ban," Chairman of Planters’ Association, Sunil Poholiyadde said.
"In that regard, we are encouraged that even at this late stage, that policy makers were willing to listen to reason…"
The study which suggested that glyphosate was linked to heavy metal leaching into water 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.
Glyphosate is very popular, due to lack of firm evidence that it is harmful, but its wide use has caused concern.
The ban triggered smuggling in Sri Lanka as it is freely available in neighbouring countries. At the moment only few countries have restrictions on the use of glyphosate and there are fears that alternatives could be more harmful.