We have already made the point on glyphosate, the most widely used pesticide at a planetary level which contributes to dangerous endocrine disruption effects and infertility, carcinogenesis and DNA damage, birth defects, neurotoxicity, promotion of antibiotic resistance (1). We reported to the lack of interest of the European Commission and the German Federal authority, which was delegated by the former to re-examine the risks related to the use of glyphosate, compared to authoritative studies that have highlighted the danger to workers and consumers, the environment and animals. Also highlighting how the most serious dangers have been already known since the 80s, even if unsaid thanks to the powerful lobby of multinationals involved. But there’s more, scientific and civil society are beginning to react. Let’s see how.
The exposure to the dangers of glyphosate is high in all those countries that have not yet banned its use. The first to be exposed are farmers and those involved in the maintenance of parks, gardens and vegetable gardens. Adults and children – at least 260,000 under 16 years of age only in the United States (2) – work in the fields without even employing Protective Equipment still needed to limit the assimilation of the poison by the human body. The danger then is extended to people living in the vicinity of plots where the pesticide is sprinkled in abundance. The Environmental Working Group has recently published an interactive map where they show the massive use of glyphosate on GM fields in the vicinity of nearly 4,000 elementary schools in the US (3).
The contamination of soil, crops and groundwater is not accidental but systematic, and deliberate. Especially in the intensive cultivation of soybeans, corn and GMO cotton specially designed to withstand the ‘Round-up’. More than 90% of ‘Made in USA’ agricultural productions, including those of wheat and potatoes, rice, peanuts, tomatoes, apples, oranges, grapes appear in the top list of the USDA (United States Department for Agriculture) for the amounts of pesticides used (4). The situation is further aggravated due to a mad widespread practice in the US since the ’90s, the late use of glyphosate shortly before threshing to increase yields (5).
The increasing occurrence of celiac disease seems in turn related to the high contamination of wheat with glyphosate (6). Dr. Stephanie Seneff, senior researcher at the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), had already published several studies on the correlation between glyphosate and the increased occurrence of various diseases, including neurotoxicity and autism (7). And she has finally come to demonstrate glyphosate damages to the intestinal villi – reducing the ability of the intestine to absorb vitamins and minerals – and it links with gliadin, a protein fraction of gluten (8), in a chemical reaction that seriously impedes digestibility. “The end result Is that your body develops an immune reaction” (9), concludes the MIT research, “glyphosate appears to be strongly correlated with the rise in celiac disease” (10).
Hope, indifference and reactions. Russia permanently banned growth and the import of GMOs, the primary cause of ‘Round-up’ pollution, already in 2014 (11). But in Europe, the Commission continues to ignore (12) the emerging risks in relation to glyphosate, instead of – as a duty – suspending its authorization pending further scientific assessments (13). Indeed worse, May 6, 2015 the European Commissioner for Health Vytenis Andriukaitis replied to Greenpeace by stating that he has no plans to accelerate the deadline for the review of the license of a pesticide that had already expired in 2012, they have been postponed to the end of 2015 and could further slide forward (14). On May 8, among other things, ministers of the German states with responsibility for public health adopted a resolution to ban the sale of gardening products containing glyphosate and the prohibition of its use in the vicinity of residential areas. They also urged the federal authorities to urgently reassess the ‘Round-Up’ risk, in the light of recent scientific studies referred to in this paragraph (15),
– May 14, 2015 the ‘International Society of Doctors for the Environment’ (ISDE) wrote an open letter to the European Parliament President Martin Schulz, the European Commission and its General Directors for Consumer Health and Food, Agriculture and Environment, Internal Market Safety (16). Asking to ban, immediately and permanently, the marketing and the use in Europe of glyphosate and herbicides containing glyphosate and the other four pesticides that on March 20, 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO, classified as potentially carcinogenic (17),
– 1.4 million signatures have been collected to date on the petition launched on Avaaz, we invite all our readers to subscribe. The appeal is addressed to the Authority, to ministries and legislators of the European Union, the United States, Canada and Brazil, so that they resort to the precautionary principle for the immediate suspension of the authorizations for the use and sale of glyphosate (18). Meanwhile, some supermarket chains in Germany, Switzerland and Italy have begun to suspend the sale of herbicides containing the dangerous poison (19).
(1) “Increasingly common chemicals used in agriculture, domestic gardens, and public places can induce a multiple-antibiotic resistance phenotype in potential pathogens. The effect occurs upon simultaneous exposure to antibiotics and is faster than the lethal effect of antibiotics. The magnitude of the induced response may undermine antibiotic therapy and substantially increase the probability of spontaneous mutation to higher levels of resistance”, http://mbio.asm.org/content/6/2/e00009-15
(7) interview with Dr. Stephanie Seneff on the link between autism and glyphosate, 16/09/14, on http://youtu.be/BIC58VpYE4A
(9) “Gut dysbiosis, brought on by exposure to glyphosate, plays a crucial role in the development of celiac disease. Many CYP enzymes are impaired in association with celiac disease, and we show that glyphosate’s known suppression of CYP enzyme activity in plants and animals plausibly explains this effect in humans.”
(11) http://youtu.be/GGSNtGMiFp8. The lands of neighboring Ukraine, another major exporter of cereals, are already largely in the hands of US investors that will certainly do everything they can to cultivate GMOs resistant to glyphosate. Cfr. http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24880
(13) The so-called precautionary principle, referred to by European policies in the environmental and agro-food industry provides for the adoption of effective and timely protective measures when the scientific data available do not allow to exclude risks to the environment, human and animal health. Cfr. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/?uri=URISERV:l32042
(15) Note well that the ‘Federal Institute for Risk Analysis’ (BfR), repeatedly called for the review of the dossier, even in the summer of 2014 it had declared the ‘relatively low’ toxicity Glyphosate (!). Cfr. http://www.euractiv.de/sections/gesundheit-und-verbraucherschutz/pflanzenschutzmittel-glyphosat-bundeslaender-fordern-eu, https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/german-states-call-ban-monsantos-glyphosate
(17) ‘International Agency for Research on Cancer’ (IARC), Agenzia della ‘World Health Organization’ (WHO). The report is based on three large epidemiological studies conducted in the US, Canada and Sweden. Cfr. http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf
(18) For other petitions pending, see note 8 to the previous editorial on http://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/food-times/armi-di-distruzione-di-massa-il-glifosato
-> A documentary on the subject can be seen at http://feedtheworld.info/documentary-trailer