Colombo Telegraph

Astroturfing With Glyphosate ?

By Ranil Senanayake

Dr Ranil Senanayake

The recent ruling in California that provided financial relief to a patient who had been affected by the controversial chemical ‘Glyphosate’. It also has a bearing on the meeting summoned by the President to re-examine the proposal by the Ministry of Plantation Industries to revoke the ban on the use of Glyphosate for the tea and rubber plantation sector. The committee was given the assurance that the plantation industries will assure no leakage into the black market or into the waterways. The last, is a very important and critical aspect of protecting public health. Thus the following consideration was accepted if ban was to be revoked.

The report of the committee stated thus :

“Revoke the ban imposed on Glyphosate ONLY for Tea and Rubber Sectors for a period of 36 months, effective from the date that the TRI and RRI design and develop an effective mechanism to ensure strict control of its use and the follow up monitoring mechanism in consultation with Registrar of Pesticides (ROP) and other relevant regulatory bodies (CEA, NSWDB, Health Department, etc.), to prevent the misuse and overuse of Glyphosate, especially the illegal transfer of issued Glyphosate to other crop sectors and environmental leakage to the water bodies;”

This meant that that the TRI and RRI first had to develop monitoring protocols to test if there is any leakage of Glyphosate into water bodies once the industry uses it. After all they argued that ther will not  be leakage into the waterbodies  Monitoring protocols will help address concerns such as: Who is responsible if a leak of Glyphosate has been detected outside the area of application? Further, if leakage is detected, what should be done ? All this must become a part of any license given to use Glyphosate. To lift the ban without clarifying these questions is going forward without fulfilling the requirements of the Presidential Committee.

Thus the gleeful announcements that the ban on Glyphosate was lifted seems to be a bit of ‘Astroturfing’ by some of the compliant media, because the committee report clearly states that the ban will be lifted “ Only for Tea and Rubber sectors and effective and only AFTER the date that the TRI and RRI design and develop an effective mechanism to ensure strict control of its use and the follow up monitoring mechanism.” As this has not yet been done one would expect that the ban has not been lifted as yet.

It would be enlightening to know what the official situation is. As a member of the committee I have still not been informed of the outcome and I am sure that I am not alone in asking for the decision that was made. Was the ban lifted for the Tea and Rubber sectors ? Has the TRI and RRI designed and developed effective monitoring mechanisms?  In the light of the decision made by the courts in the US allowing the public access to defend their health from chemical damage, it is critical that we in Sri Lanka know if the current rash of Glyphosatee spraying is illegal activity or not!

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