By Matt Rozsa
Last month Malta became the first EU country to outright ban glyphosate, a weedkiller that has been the source of considerable controversy. Why? Well, we can look at the reasons listed by it and some of the other nations that have banned it:
A spokesman for Friends of the Earth Malta summed up the tiny nation’s position quite succinctly: “The decision shows courage from government’s side as it chose to listen to the concerns of experts and individuals who have demanded that our fields, streets and gardens would be free from this risky weed killer.”
Banned glyphosate because it was linked to a five-fold increase in the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) throughout Sri Lanka’s farming communities. These chemicals resulted in roughly 20,000 deaths in northern Sri Lanka.
Prohibits the weedkiller in large part because of the Party for Animals, which focuses on animal rights issues, as well as growing concern among citizens aware of the chemical’s general health risks.
The country’s medical professionals didn’t hold back when denouncing glyphosate, associating it with spontaneous abortions, birth defects, and various neurological, respiratory, and dermatological diseases.
In case the opinions of individual nations don’t convince you, the World Health Organization announced that glyphosate is a probable carcinogenic for humans. Yet, glyphosates are still widely sold in the United States, largely in the form of Roundup, manufactured by agricorporate giant Monsanto. Monsanto has a tremendous grip on our political institutions, maintained through lavish and aggressive lobbying, and as a result, it seems unlikely that they will be banned here in the foreseeable future. In the past decade alone, over 2.4 billion pounds have been sprayed in this country.
Monsanto has claimed that the WHO was “cherry picking” its data so it could realize an “agenda-driven bias.” That said, even publications that have offered partial defenses for the use of glyphosate — like The New Yorker and The Washington Post — have acknowledged that the chemical can severely damage the environment and harm the very crops they’re meant to protect. In short, even if all of the other health concerns didn’t exist, Monsanto’s implication that any criticism of their substance is determined by bias simply doesn’t hold up.
As the rest of the international community has made clear, there are valid health concerns about glyphosates. We need to find safer herbicides that won’t raise such serious questions about causing a multitude of health problems. Want to do something about it now? Check out this MoveOn.org petition to bring this issue to the attention of Congress.