16th July 2019
Farmer Chandrashekhar H. Bhadsavle’s letter to NON-FARMER Ashwani Mahajan on glyphosate, which DOES NOT cause cancer
Continuing from my notes on Glyphosate.
Chandrashekhar H. Bhadsavle, Krishi Ratna, Krishi Bhushan.
Founder and Managing Trustee – Saguna Rural Foundation. JULY 16, 2019
Mr. Ashwani Mahajan,
Dear Mr. Ashwani, Greetings.
I am a farmer by profession. I have been working in the agriculture and allied sectors for more than 45 years now. For the past half a century, I have witnessed almost all the developments that have been realised in these sectors. Recently, I have been reading a lot about glyphosate and the related controversies and theories around it. In this regard, I came across your petition on change.org and would like to comment on it. Hence the letter.
As much as 8.6 billion kgs of glyphosate has been used globally since it was introduced in 1974. Globally, glyphosate is sold for commercial purposes in more than 100 countries. The total use of the herbicide increased from about 51 million kgs in 1995 to about 750 million kgs in 2014—nearly a 15-fold jump. This jump has been attributed to the introduction of herbicide tolerant GM plants. In India, about 866 thousand kgs of glyphosate was sold in 2014-15, according to the Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage. The reason for the extensive usage of this particular herbicide may be accounted to the fact that in 2000, the patent policy of manufacturing glyphosate held by Monsanto, expired and the production of generic glyphosate began. Hence, the cost of glyphosate spiralled down from $15 per galleon to $4 per galleon. Today, countries like China, India, Israel, United States, Canada, many European countries and other nation states worldwide are commercially producing and consuming glyphosate.
The legal case registered by Mr. DeWayne Johnson, in San Francisco, claiming that glyphosate has caused him cancer and thus glyphosate – as a carcinogenic agent – must be banned, requires a mature understanding of the issue, adequate research, and a practical application of field experience, to conclude for or against the production and consumption of the herbicide.
While glyphosate and formulations such as Roundup have been approved by regulatory bodies worldwide, concerns about their effects on humans and the environment persist, and have grown as the global usage of glyphosate increases. A number of regulatory and scholarly reviews have evaluated the relative toxicity of glyphosate as an herbicide. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment toxicology review in 2013 found that “the available data is contradictory and far from being convincing” with regard to correlations between exposure to glyphosate formulations and risk of various cancers, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans” (category 2A) based on epidemiological studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies. In contrast, the European Food Safety Authority concluded in November 2015, that “the substance is unlikely to be genotoxic (i.e. damaging to DNA) or to pose a carcinogenic threat to humans”.
The WHO and FAO Joint committee on pesticide residues issued a report in 2016 stating the use of glyphosate formulations does not necessarily constitute a health risk, and giving admissible daily maximum intake limits (one milligram/kg of body weight per day) for chronic toxicity.
Glyphosate acts on the biosynthesis of shikimic acid, a metabolic pathway present in plants and certain microorganisms, but not in animals. For this reason, it is seen as relatively safe in higher-order species, with acute toxicity ranging from low (500 mg/kg < dL50 ≤ 5,000 mg/kg) to very low (dL50 > 5,000 mg/kg), depending on the route of exposure and organism involved. Studies by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Cornell Environment Inquiry Programs’ Assessing Toxic Risk reports have confirmed that caffeine is in fact 28 times more toxic than glyphosate.
As a general purpose systemic herbicide, I have been using glyphosate since 1997, spraying it on all the 15 acres of crop land I own at Neral. With extensive experimentation and intensive field trials, I have invented and developed a zero-till, conservation agriculture technique, essentially for rice based farming, which is not only specific to the crop of rice, but is beneficial form of agro practice for other crops too, popularly named as Saguna Rice Technique (SRT). This type of precision farming fundamentally achieves sustainability of the practice, enabling carbon sequestration, ultimately leading to a prosperous situation for all. In the application of my agro practice, I recommend the use of glyphosate as a general purpose herbicide.
Along with SRT, I have dedicated myself to the cause of natural conservation – through implementing Saguna Vansanvardhan Tantra (SVT) and Saguna Jalsanvardhan Tantra (SJT)- essentially trying to tackle forest fires and restore mountains with greens and water body conservation respectively. The use of glyphosate for all the projects initiated by me have found lasting and optimum results. In fact, our experience at our project sites has proved to us that carbon sequestration, aimed by me as a primary basis for my all activities, is exponentially complemented by the use of glyphosate. Organic carbon, soil fertility and other essential attributes of it, such as soil water holding capacity, soil texture, soil colour, pH levels, soil electrical conductivity, to name a few, improve with timely and optimum usage of glyphosate. We have witnessed the appearance of earthworms and other bacteria and microorganisms in areas sprayed with glyphosate at our project locations. Also, percolation of glyphosate particles into soil and water resources causing environmental negative impact does not happen as the degradation of glyphosate is simple. Thus, environmental degradation through glyphosate and/or associated biomagnification is out of the question.
As of today, with more than 3000 SRT followers, I can prove with a certain degree of authority, complemented by my 45 years of experience, that glyphosate causing cancer is a conspiracy theory. The motive may range from new patent products waiting to be launched by chemical giants or simple some political favors not returned, but any sane person will never challenge science and experience combined.
I have attached a few video links and scientific papers in the reference section of this letter for your kind perusal, which effectively prove what I’m trying to opine here. Please go through the same.
As a concluding remark, I would like to ask a question to you and to other intellectuals who opine otherwise, that if, and the odds of this coming true are astronomical, the allegations of glyphosate being a carcinogenic agent be true, the possible way forward is to ban it.
But if it is not, as I just opined, will the anti-glyphosate lobby, including you, bare the monetary and economic losses, incurred by farmers because of the ban?
Food for thought!
Chandrashekhar H. Bhadsavle