Opinion: The European Union has renewed the use of Glyphosate. Should Australia be concerned?
An opinion from Nic Pascal – Auteur
In a word – Yes.
Glyphosate, the weed killer commonly known as ‘Round up’, has been in use since the 1970’s. It was developed by Monsanto; a chemical manufacturing company that has been the subject of much condemnation since its inception in 1901. Prior to the vote to keep glyphosate in the EU, there was a petition by Greenpeace that had over 1.3 million signatures to ban it… Why?
Type ‘Monsanto’ into Google and you will be inundated with information about this company. It has been involved in countless lawsuits on both sides of the bench and they continue to pay out exorbitant amounts of money to victims of the Vietnam War.
These are the facts:
➢ Monsanto has produced two of the most devastating toxins known to man.
1. Agent Orange
What is it? – An herbicide and defoliant chemical used predominantly in the Vietnam War.
Why its bad – It is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese citizens and shocking birth defects that continue to this day. It has also jeopardised the health of many Vietnam veterans even with minor exposure to it during the War.
2. PCB’s and Dioxins
What is it? – Polychlorinated Biphenyls used to produce coolant fluids for electric motors.
Why its bad – Linked to cancer, infertility and disruption of the endocrine and reproductive system.
➢ Monsanto sold PCBs even after knowing of their toxicity to the human race. The ‘Poison Papers’ are a collection of hundreds of thousands of litigation documents, emails and letters gathered under the Freedom of information act, describing the concerns of industry bodies and corporations over known toxic chemicals as well as the efforts to conceal and deceive the public of such dangers.
➢ Monsanto has successfully lobbied the US Govt. not to label genetically modified foods for sale to the American consumer. This move has been strongly opposed by experts citing that not enough time and research has been invested into outlining the risks of genetically modified organisms. Monsanto is the biggest producer of ‘GMOs’
Monsanto offers ‘rational’ explanations on its website regarding many allegations against them. You would be hard pressed to find another organisation that has defended itself so rigorously and vehemently denied all its actions of wrongdoing.
It would be more believable on their part to admit fault to at least some of the allegations; nevertheless, they do indeed paint themselves as a moral compass much to the vexation of millions worldwide. Many countries have banned glyphosate because associated health risks but the EU has buckled under intense corporate lobbying and approved glyphosate for at least another five years.
Monsanto produces other products including saccharin and aspartame (artificial sweeteners) that are used in foods worldwide, which have also been linked to various health issues. With all the conflicting information online and arguments between various scientific bodies and Government agencies, we can still rely on one thing. Choice. If presented with two apples, one genetically modified to resist bugs and sprayed with glyphosate or one free of any pesticides and herbicides organically grown as they were before the industrial era… choice is yours.
Cue – the angry pro-monsanto GMO seed supporters and their vitriol claiming the necessity of genetically modified foods to feed the developing countries.
It has now been twenty-one years since the introduction of genetically modified foods and there are still some 800 million people without adequate food supplies. When was this mass feeding due to take place?
But for arguments sake, there are other ways to grow food on baron and dry land that could help many who are without such resources. Sundrop Farms, ‘is a global leader in sustainable agriculture, growing fresh fruits and vegetables using renewable inputs.’ A detailed video of their organisation can be seen here. The money that was spent on defence in 2015, in the US, was $601 billion dollars. That’s enough to build 3,005 of these farms. One farm produces 15 million kilograms of tomatoes per year. 3,005 of these farms will produce over 45 billion kilograms of tomatoes per year, without any gmo seeds or glyphosate. Checkmate.
So with the EU approval, where does that leave Australia?
Australian farmers have been using glyphosate for around forty years and most conventional farmers swear by it. It is up to the individual farmer whether they pursue an organic method, which does have its associated costs of certification and strict procedures to adhere to.
It has been stated by the World Health Organisation ‘WHO,’ that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen. Many scientists worldwide have claimed that the minimal amount ingested has no bearing on one’s health. What they fail to disclose however is whether the body can secrete these toxins naturally or do they in effect build up over time and have their been studies to prove either case? This is what is so disconcerting.
There has been an increasing trend in popularity for organic food in Australia, The Colmar Brunton Omnibus Survey has shown that 14% of all Australian consumers now shop at farmers markets where organic food is readily available. Australian farmers do adopt many similar practices to American farmers and as such, it is best to ask the vendor about what treatments are used, which can be anything from pesticides, to herbicides and fungicides etc.
If you are wondering what foods to buy organic, the ‘dirty dozen’ and the ‘clean fifteen’ is a list that has been circulating for some years, indicating the foods with the most pesticides and least pesticides respectively. For clarity, it is often the thicker- skinned fruits and vegetables that have the most resilience to pests and therefore require less pesticides. Here is the list for 2017.