26 September, 2022


How The Glyphosate Ban Will Trigger Political Violence In The Hill Country

By Chandre Dharmawardana

Prof. Chandre Dharmawardana

Prof. Chandre Dharmawardana

It is well known that ecosystems and societies are complex systems that do not permit careless tinkering. Social revolutions led by visionaries – usually with tunnel vision narrowed down by some ideology- have almost always ended in reigns of terror or long-lasting social chaos. However, when the government, goaded by eco-extremists and fanned by the fear of an epidemic of kidney disease in the Rajarata announced the ban on a popular herbicide, it did not think of this except as a “move towards a toxin-free nation”. Never mind the fact that the nation is awash in a sea of diesel fumes, mounds of rotting garbage, pits of pollutants and noxious plastics. The traditionalists, tied down by their tunnel vision, dazzled by ancient dreams of being the “granary of the orient”, hold that traditional farming with home-grown compost, manual weeding and traditional agriculture can sustain the nation without the need for mineral fertilizers and modern herbicides to rid weeds.

Just recently (9. Sept. 2016), a number of scientists, doctors and academics submitted an appeal to the president in the following terms *: “We the undersigned bring to the kind attention of His Excellency the President and the government of Sri Lanka the need to consider, as a matter of highest priority, lifting the ban on the weed killer Glyphosate, in order to save Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector from an unprecedented decline, at least until such time that an alternative, equally safe and cost–effective weed control method is made available.” [* The present author is a signatory to the document.]

The agricultural sector consists of the tea, rubber, coconut, paddy as well as the vital vegetable and horticultural crops (e.g., cut flowers). Most of these depend crucially on Glyphosate as a weedicide since the manual labour needed is unavailable, and even if available, the added labour force will over-whelm the financial, housing and infrastructure resources available to the land. Consequently, plantations are forced to close down and release their existing labour force and swell the ranks of the unemployed.

While this will affect all types of farming everywhere, let us simply examine the hill country where tea and vegetables are the main crops. These heavily depend on large inputs of mineral fertilizers and correspondingly large quantities of herbicide. Thus we can expect a rapid decline in production and closure of plantations due to unprofitability in the hill country, and indeed in other plantation areas as well. This deadly BOLO PUNCH on the hill-country plantation sector is just one of a series of debilitating attacks on it. The first of them was land-reform and nationalization that brought many extremely well-run profitable plantations under a government corporation. That nationalization hardly had time to prove or disprove itself when it was de-nationalized and plantations were handed over in 1992 to political buddies who ran Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs). An estimated 0.8 million workers were employed in RPCs as well as in smaller private holdings, vegetable farming etc. All these actions were driven by political ideology (“political science” !) and not agricultural science or principles of good business! The new owners of RPCs quickly began to resell or mortgage even the door knobs, and take assets away, if possible out of the island. Meanwhile, more recently, self-styled “eco-activists”, NGOs led by the concerns of Californians about a few parts of Glyphosate in a billion parts of water, and the “psychic visions” of a Kelaniya lady successfully used public fear to ban glyphosate.

The ban on glyphosate has not been gradual, but abrupt and unplanned. It is like the effect on an economy of banning gasoline (petrol) overnight. The over a million employed in the hill country in the tea sector, vegetable farming sector, in their transportation, distribution and retail will rapidly see their employment vanish within an year or two. Many of these workers are young Tamils who have so far remained at arms length from the Tamil militancy that morphed into LTTE terrorism in the North. Although the LTTE was vanquished in 2009, the problems of the Tamil youth have languished unresolved. LTTE recruitment was strongest in the Roman Catholic Tamil villages where family planning in any form was unacceptable, with bulging youth populations with no gainful employment. While the current youth unemployment levels in the Vanni and in the Jaffna peninsula are an order of magnitude higher than in the Western province, the Glyphosate ban and the consequent closure of the plantation sector will push unemployment in the hill country to unprecedented levels well beyond those in the Vanni. There is thus the necessary and sufficient conditions for the rise of violent political movements in the Hill country, and these are very likely to take a sharply ethnic character.

The situation in the low country will also become worse with the decline in the coconut, rubber and paddy sectors faced with rapid weed growth, parallel growth of rodents, snakes, mosquitoes and other pests characteristic of unmanaged tropical ecosystems. Such new and unregulated ecosystems take decades to self-regulate and become healthy.

Meanwhile, the rising youth unemployment will add to the increasing militancy of the students in universities and schools. Today, the government is approaching the status of a failed state, with many of its bills, and even the budget, being mere pieces of irregular legislation. The parliament itself no longer functions smoothly. The administrative system cracks under the strain of the times, and impending social chaos is the only certain prediction. The big powers interested in Sri Lanka sitting on the silk route will certainly welcome such a weakened country that will be malleable to their whims.

When can we expect the next youth uprising? It takes about 15-20 years for a new group of young people to grow up and become militant. Thus the 1971 JVP uprising was followed by 1989, while the 1957 Tamil Sathyagraha militancy fanned by Sinhala-only agitation was followed by the 1977 rise of armed Tamil youth groups. The Eelam-war provided a killing machine that engaged the youth of both ethnicities. Now, after 2009, and hastened by the collapse of farming employment due to the Glyphosate ban, we can expect the next youth uprisings by 2020-2024, i.e., within the span of this government.

Hopefully, the government and also the opposition will understand that they have to leave their personal political agendas aside and review the nation’s problems within a scientific, evidence-based and humane perspective if much misery and bloodshed are to be avoided in the near future.

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Latest comments

  • 9

    Which is better – people dying of chronic kidney failure,
    difficult but quite possible transition to other methods of weed control?

    Your pontification of LTTE rebirth because of Glyphosate ban is laughable, if not idiotic.

    • 7

      There is no clear evidence to conclude that the use of this weedicide has caused Chronic Kidney failure anywhere in the country or elsewhere. It is widely used all over the world. It is true that use of excessive chemicals may cause various diseases including cancer. Therefore, there should be regulatory measures in the use of chemicals.

      I agree with you regarding the racist mentality of this Professor. I think the most important and urgent need is to use those chemicals to weed out people like this professor. It is not only laughable but a shame for the country to produce such a third class professors.

      • 0

        I am a muslim and I see no racism what so ever. In fact, Quite the Contrary.
        The author has
        ascribed the intensity of the LTTE militancy to the rapid increase in population in Catholic tamil areas. He has emphasized youth unemployment as the cause of socila strife and made prdictions on when to expect further uprisings based on young people growing up. This is good demographic theory.

        The author is pointing out that if the employment in the tea sector is lost, the Tamil youth of the estates, and also the sinhalese and Muslims involved in tea-plantation activities will all loose their joint activity that UNIFIES them. If this is lost, and as there is no back-up plan, as the author has said, there will be nothing but chaos, and we know that in such times racial tensions and racial/ sectarian groups become a choice method of political organization, all over the world. and especially in Sri Lanka with political parties and groups already divided along racial line for at least 30 years.

      • 1

        I think we have our own eugenic criminals in the likes of this stupid Prof. Dharmawardene….(Must be a paid local agent of the Jewish Monsanto that produces this de-population tool).

        Since, not many knows about the history of the Glyphosate, let the the knowledgeable people go through some research and come to their own conclusion about the dangers of this Jew manufactured poison targeting the non-Jews (Gentiles) to kill them off from 7.5 billions to a Jew estimated 500 millions of humanity.

        1. Genetic Fallacy: How Monsanto Silences Scientific Dissent

        2. Dr. Mercola Interviews Dr. Samsel on the Dangers of Glyphosate

        3. Monsanto Long Term Studies Buried by EPA Revealed! Dr. Stephanie Seneff Explains

        4. Toxic effects of glyphosate

        5. Monsanto GMO POISON IN OUR FOOD – Documentary

        6. The Illuminati(Jewish) Plan to Use Food to Kill us EXPOSED!

        7. Bill Gates – Depopulation through Vaccines

        8. Rockefeller Medicine

        9. Genetic Fallacy: How Monsanto Silences Scientific Dissent

    • 2

      Another way to look at this problem would be through the use of opportunity costs. Such costs should be taken into account in cases where a possible risk from a toxic substance is identified. Should the opportunity cost be higher, the risk should be taken. I cite two examples from health and environmental policy.

      A health example can be found in Baltic herring, which has been contaminated with dioxin from the environment in excess of European Union limits. The most obvious response would be to ban it, but Finnish officials have decided not to do so. The reason is that the opportunity cost is that the person would not eat the fish and get a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids. The opportunity cost of the deficiency is higher than that of theoretical risk from dioxin toxicity.

      Another example is that of the reduction of aromatics in petrol. An investment in the range of USD 100 million has been spent to reduce aromatics, motivated by the fact that aromatics are carcinogenic. However, the actual exposure to gasoline vapour and the resulting carcinogenity is statistically expected to lead to 3–4 fatal cancers annually. The opportunity cost is that USD 100 million could have been spent on more effective life-saving efforts, e.g.: cancer research, to potentially save thousands of lives.

  • 6

    Reports say, that glyphosate has some impurity that occuers in extremely minute amounts (lerss than 0.1%) is toxic to human cells and is carcinogenic.

    that impurity can contaminate water ways in upcountry and that contamination the whole island as this water flows along the rivers. so, the tea leaves, humans, animals, environment everything will be contaminated ?

  • 11

    I have no problem with Chandre’s views on the ‘unscientific’ basis for banning glyphosate, but I do feel that he should not stir the ethnic pot of potential terror being unleashed by his conflated and unprincipled fear-mongering.

    This is shameful for any academic, not least one of his reputation.

    He has done the right thing by bringing his concerns to the authorities (via the said petition) and he should agitate in whatever other way/s he can to prove to the authorities that glyphosate is not the cause of the epidemic of kidney disease in the NCP and do more to identify the real cause of this dreaded disease.

  • 3

    Very ominous indeed! Thanks for the grim warnings for the future. Yes, there should be a gradual ban on the Glyphosates. Or the government has to immediately put a lot more resources into traditional organic farming. Depends on their ability to tax Elite.

    Petrol fumes, plastic and other pollutants have less of an immediate impact on the human body. Glyphosates on the other hand have an immediate effect with kidney disease, cancers and mental fatigue and depression, and hence the need to remove them asap, within a fast gradual.

    • 4

      Yes, the amount of money GoSL spends on foreign Mknsanto corporation, they might as well use to build up traditional organic agriculture.

      • 2


    • 6

      That glyphosate has any effect on Kidney disease is nonsense.
      Look at what the WHO and FAO new release in May 2016 from Geneva says. They
      cleared Glyphosate of any Carcinogenicity OR gene-toxicity

      Similarly, in August the New Zealand government EPA, after an year long review of
      Glyphosate came to the same conclusion.

      But the public continue to believe all sorts of things because they read Dr. Marcola or some internet Gurus who are peddling their alternative medicines.

      Glyphosate is the safest weedicide we have.
      It is better than using organic methods because (i)organic fertilizers have as much metal toxins or more than mineral fertilizers (ii) you have to remove weeds manually,
      and you can do that except perhaps in your garden plot.

      • 7

        What ????
        Who proved that glyphosate is “safe” ???
        Who funded the studies that said so ?

        • 2

          Geneva, 9–13 May 2016

          1.2 Glyphosate(158)
          Glyphosate is a broad spectrum systemic herbicide.

          ….[for full reports see: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/jmprsummary2016.pdf ]
          … also NewZealnd govt. Report showing that Glyphosate is NOT toxic:

          extract from summary from the Geneva May 2016 report:

          Control studies and the overall meta-analysis.
          ….. large cohort study of high quality found no evidence of an association at any exposure level. Glyphosate has been extensively tested for genotoxic effects using a variety of tests in a wide range of organisms. The overall weight of evidence indicates that administration of glyphosate and its formulation products at doses as high as 2000 mg/kg bodyweight
          by the oral route, the route most relevant to human dietary exposure, was not associated withgenotoxic effects in an overwhelming majority of studies conducted in mammals, a model consideredto be appropriate for assessing genotoxic risks to humans. The Meeting concluded that glyphosate is
          unlikely to be genotoxic at anticipated dietary exposures.
          carcinogenicity studies in mice and rats are available. The Meeting concluded that glyphosate is not carcinogenic in rats but could not exclude the possibility that it is carcinogenic in mice at very high doses. In view of the absence of carcinogenic potential in rodents at human- relevant doses and the absence of genotoxicity by the oral route in mammals, and considering the epidemiological evidence from occupational exposures, the
          Meeting concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.
          The Meeting reaffirmed the group ADI for the sum of glyphosate and its metabolites of 0 – 1 mg/kg body weight on the basis of effects on the salivary gland. The Meeting concluded that it was not necessary to establish an ARfD for glyphosate or its metabolites in view of its low acute

          So what authoritative body ANYWHERE in the world says that glyphosate is toxic?

          The Professors and Academics are right in their appeal to HE President.

          Why do all developed countries continue to use it, and 100 or more times more intensely than Sri lanka?

          • 3

            Q – “Why do all developed countries continue to use it, and 100 or more times more intensely than Sri lanka?”

            A – Because they don’t give a s..t about the side effects and cancer feeds Big Pharma as well so it’s a sweet deal. Meanwhile cancer rates are soaring the your developed world

            WHO – IARC Monograph Vol. 112 (March 2015)
            Glyphosate probably carcinogenic for humans

            Here’s the rub “other, probably carcinogenic, glyphosate-containing formulations may exist” (from Wiki)

            So it is not glyphosate alone that is risky but it’s possible and likely chemical interactions with other substances that poses additional danger. These have not been studied

            The professors and academics are a bunch of stooges – probably paid off by Big Agro, the Bayers and Monsanto’s of this world whose only concern is the bottom line and the hell with the consequences to the planet and it’s inhabitants.

            Thanks to short-sighted ignoramus’s to whom the “Developed World” is the Best of All Possible Things!

          • 2


            I am not sure in what language “Unlikely” means “Definitely Not”.

            Besides, all these studies are confined to Glyphosate alone. It does not address combinations of the chemical with other compounds and those related risks

            By the same token then, tobacco is not harmful either. Neither is Fentanyl or Petrol.

            The FAO and WHO are both hedging their bets here in the (valid) expectation that anyone dying from Glyphosate chemical combinations will likely be from a third-world country and their lives would not matter anyway

            Meanwhile “Developed” countries are reducing or applying controls on these compounds while the vested interests in SL are clamouring for no control.

            Wonder why..

          • 1

            “The Professors and Academics are right in their appeal to HE President.”

            This just in.

            Search for “Harvard Sugar Scandal”

            We can see how Professors and Academics have bent to the interests of multinationals in the past.. Are you so sure they are not bending to the same interests today and in the future ?

            I am not. Today, people are not so easily fooled by so-called “eminence” and “learned people”. There is far more information available to all of us

            You may not be old enough to remember how in the past, these same multinational interests demonized coconut oil so that we would buy palm oil instead. We bought into that because we had no better information.

            Should we fall into the same trap over and over again ?

            Is your answer “Yes” ??

  • 6

    I do not know anything about agriculture. What I have observed is even though it possible to GROW at small scale using organic manure it not possible to PROTECT them without chemical herbicides, insecticides etc.


    • 0

      “it not possible to PROTECT them without chemical herbicides, insecticides etc”

      as you said

      “I do not know anything about agriculture.”

  • 5

    Where are those environmentalist b******* who shouted to bring the sky down over the cataclysmic environmental disaster resulting from the port city NOW?


    • 3

      soma – We’re still here you stupid [Edited out]. If you expect the “environmental disaster” to happen “NOW”, you’re even denser than your moronic comment suggests.

      • 2


        ” If you expect the “environmental disaster” to happen “NOW”, you’re even denser than your moronic comment suggests.”

        somaass is paranoid and may commit self-harm anytime sooner. He needs help.

  • 6

    “It is well known that ecosystems and societies are complex systems that do not permit careless tinkering”.


    This is exactly what has happened in many environments where the ‘miracle’ of chemicals took over from the more sustainable methods that were used to encourage and increase the diabolical effects of pesticides, weedicides and fungicides.

    The Professor can theorize and pontificate from his comfortable chemical-free home in Oz, but he has no idea of the suffering of the families that are affected by Glysophate (for one) here in Sri Lanka. This is not to mention the innumerable life forms that are being systematically destroyed by the applications of these poisons. And this, in turn, has vast detrimental environmental effects that make sense of his opening statement that “It is well known that ecosystems and societies are complex systems that do not permit careless tinkering” .

    Time to reset that brain of yours, Prof!

  • 7

    it is well known that the health risks of glyphosate are numerous. It causes inflammation of the cells which causes the immune system to be weakened, thereby leaving your body vulnerable to infections.

    To begin with, the damage done to the body by this chemical don’t show up immediately, but they take time. The negative impact caused by glyphosate to the body manifests slowly, but it continues to worsen as inflammation takes over in every cell of the body. You won’t see any health problems right away, but things will get worse and worse as time passes.
    Glyphosate disrupts the shikimate pathway in weeds, preventing them from growing and producing new cells. Humans and other mammals do not have this pathway, but the bacteria in the human intestines do. This means that the chemical disrupts the healthy growth and spread of gut bacteria, which causes a number of serious digestive problems.
    Glycophosphate blocks the production of an enzyme called CYP. This enzyme is supposed to detoxify the human body, and its purpose is to get rid of the chemicals that your body cannot eliminate on its own. If these enzymes cannot be produced, the human body cannot eliminate the toxins and chemicals. This can lead to a number of serious health problems, such as cancer, toxicity, and organ damage.There are many studies showing that it causes cancer in humans
    For example see the recent publication by researchers Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff in GMWatch, where they state that Monsanto had been aware for 40 years now that glyphosate causes cancer — yet they remain mum about it.
    Glycophosphate is the active component in many weed killers produced by Monsanto, who fund many scientists in developing and developed countries and these scientist try to sell the product in those countries. I have a strong feeling that the petition to the president was signed by such self-centered academics mainly to safe guard their fundings. We should resist any attempt to remove the ban.

  • 2

    Any chaos in the Hill country will affect the whole nation.
    There are not only Sinhala and Tamil youth in the plantation sector,
    but Muslim youth too
    who will face untold hardship if the plantation sector collapses.
    If the estates are neglected there would be very serious erosion and
    land loss.

    Unlike Tensions in the North which could be confined to one end of the
    country while the government carried on in Colombo, up risings in
    the hill country will spread quickly to Colombo and there
    will be serious disruption.

    I am glad that the author has emphasized the population problem
    and unemployment. These are
    problems that affect the Muslims as well as the estate Tamils
    even more than they affect the Sinhalese.

    In the LTTE case, many of the Suicide cadre were Catholic youth.

  • 1


  • 4

    What doom and gloom Prof Dharmawardana. I am hyperventilating. Banning Glyphosate may even spell the end of the human race – right professor.

  • 9

    This is a most irresponsible and ABSURD article!

    The ban on Glyphosphate is very important for the well being of the people of Sri Lanka.

    Threatening war and violence in the plantation sectors because of a ban on Glyphosphate is a Gotabaya Jarapassa tactic– to get people in a fear psychosis so that corrupt and sick policies can be implemented that benefit a few cronies and the multi-national corporations that sell Glyphosphate and the exploitative Plantation Raj economy.

    The Tamils exploited by the plantation Raj – formally the British Colonial masters who ran the Plantation Raj and now the SInhala Plantation Raj are voting with their feet and leaving the plantations that have exploited them for generations, not because of the ban on Glyphosphate.

    These communities who are descended of indentured labour – a new system of SLAVERY – have been denied land ownership and live in over crowded line rooms. The entire plantation sector needs to be RESTRUCTURED – STRUCTURALLY ADJUSTED- so that the people who have slaved for generations so that tea sellers can make massive profits – are properly compensated for their fore fathers’ slavery.

    These fo

  • 7

    Who is this fake Professor from the Nether-world?!

    What irrational tosh is this?! Complete nut case trying to whip up racial tensions to get the Glyphosphate ban lifted?

    Monsanto and its local agents must have given him a good pay off to write absolute TOSH!

    • 4

      Hey. cool down mate. Glypo is now a free license stuff. comes from China

      • 0

        are you Australian?

    • 5

      40% of world’s glypo production is now by China.

  • 6

    Bastards….Doesn’t care for human lives…working for Multi Nationals living in their payrolls.

  • 7

    Mr. Dharmawardena.
    “We the undersigned bring to the kind attention of His Excellency the President and the government of Sri Lanka the need to consider, as a matter of highest priority, lifting the ban on the weed killer Glyphosate, in order to save Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector from an unprecedented decline, at least until such time that an alternative, equally safe and cost–effective weed control method is made available.” [* The present author is a signatory to the document.]
    Can you remember when the WHO did not specifically say !950-1960 s that smoking/using tobacco was bad for health ,they were restrained by the fact that the number of persons diagnosed with cancer as a result of Tobacco use in the 50-60s were miniscule.In the 50-60s they said “ tobacco probably causes cancer”. Today millions of people die of the use of tobacco products .Today many people file litigation and claim damages, against the tobacco multinationals.
    Today the IASC and other organizations say Glyphosate (which acts on human & plant protein) probably causes cancer.
    The TRI (Tea Research Institute) and other institutes do recommend the use of manual weeding .Manual weeding will help stop soil erosion and provide more demand for estate labor.
    Monsanto the American multinational recommends regular use of Round up the commercial weed killer in conjunction with GM seeds .As you are well aware that GM crops are immune to Round Up and can tolerate large doses. Local vegetables and other plants cannot tolerate it. I found that my tea bushes tend to decline in productivity (low ᴏflush) if accidently sprayed with round up.
    The decline in the tea industry is mainly due to the mismanagement of the 22 Plantation company clusters. For hundreds s of years the plantations never used Round Up because it only became a reality in the 70s.The RPCs never re invested or replanted and like said took home even the garden hoses and brass door knobs which were not in the estate inventory.They also took away the antique furniture and Persian carpets and replaced with Arpico steel furniture because the estate inventory said simply tables and chairs and did not specify the quality in its description. Similarly the estate timber was removed even from the watershed areas and reservation areas.
    Therefore the decline is due to other reasons than round up use.
    It is well recorded on the unfettered use of agrochemicals cause ( specially fertilizer) algal bloom in the rivers and lakes due to chemical runoff and soil acidification which reduces soil fertility and productivity. This started with the Green Revolution. Today the ground water in the North has about 5% of soluble nitrates .Therefore the cause of ‘Blue Babies’ have been reported in the Jaffna peninsula as well.
    Therefore the problem that you talk of is limited to the agribusiness boys who make a living selling and indiscriminately using Glyphosate, GM crops/seeds, and other agrochemicals.
    You may ridicule the use of organic fertilizer because it requires large amounts in the agro – industry. Research in the 80s talk of using organic mulches and the injection of mycorrhiza to develop the plant’s capacity to absorb nutrient through the mycorrhizal sheath as being feasible le and is being practiced in Europe and the US quite successfully. Plants with nitrate fixing capacity such as soya and other leguminosae are also quite successful.
    If a revolution does occur in the future it will be due to global warming /climate change and the general decline in food crops and food scarcities it entails. Because photosynthetic process comes to a complete standstill when the temperature reaches 37C says the latest research.
    Another reason for a youth uprising is not Round Up but the fact there is no desire on the part of the South to work at a reasonable and just political solution that devolves powers to the periphery. The unemployed in the Northern Province exceeds 250 youth, widows and orphans who have been marginalized by the society.
    The emperor/CM Wigneswaran is fiddling while the North is burning, by talking of irrelevant issues and not even using the moneys allocated to the NPC! The main problem as I see it is there is no real development of industry capable of giving and generating employment in the North.Not the hill country

    • 4

      You have got the smoking debate completely wrong. The academics doctors and scientists warned about tobacco even in the 19th century when a London University Professor wrote to the London Times explaining its dangers.
      There have been many letters to newspapers right from the beginning of the 20th century by academics and scientists who warned against smoking.
      But it was the PUBLIC who did not want to give up smoking. Every film star or glamour boy smoked. Can you think of Churchill without his Cigar?
      The older people smoked a pipe. The French even today claim that smoking a “Gulois” is a national characteristic that they should preserve.
      The scientists WARNED against tobacco vehemently.
      The Public did NOT want that warning. They wanted to smoke.
      Same with drink. Scientists have warned us about drink. But everybody drinks.
      Scientis have warned us about sugar. Yet every can ok coke or soda-pop has 4-8 spoons of sugar. The public has no understanding.
      The public thinks that “organic food” is safe because they are suckers who are willing to pay MORE for junk.

      The Tobacco companies exploited that and used their “scientific reports” to claim that they have betters filters etc. Governments encouraged tobacco as tobacco was/is a good source of revenue. Even today, has the government ordered the closure of the tobacco company and sent off its directors to Jail? NO.

      Don’t blame the health scientists. They started warning about tobacco from about the end of the 19th century.

  • 12

    This sorry article is a pathetic display of arrogance and hypocrisy. One can suppose that it reflects the yearning of some diaspora groups in countries like Canada for a return to violence. But should we add credence to such desires to return to violence? Let us consider two statements from the article in question.

    (1) The agricultural sector consists of the tea, rubber, coconut, paddy as well as the vital vegetable and horticultural crops (e.g., cut flowers). Most of these depend crucially on Glyphosate as a weedicide since the manual labour needed is unavailable, and even if available, the added labour force will over-whelm the financial, housing and infrastructure resources available to the land.

    (2) The Glyphosate ban and the consequent closure of the plantation sector will push unemployment in the hill country to unprecedented levels well beyond those in the Vanni. There is thus the necessary and sufficient conditions for the rise of violent political movements in the Hill country, and these are very likely to take a sharply ethnic character.

    The author’s unproven hypotheses that a ban on Glyphosate will lead to estate closure, suggests that it is Glyphosate that keeps the plantation economy afloat. It will be useful if he provides some data to support this hypothesis, otherwise it is mere conjecture. Using this lame hypothesis, he sates that, while the manual labour needed for weeding is unavailable’ a ban on weedicides will ‘push unemployment in the hill country’. Worse, he uses this blatant hypocritical stand to try to scare us into thinking that banning Glyphosate will lead to political violence. It seems this is a dream of the author who might as well be sympathetic to the violence prone segment of the diaspora.

    As a practicing agriculturist who produces coconut and tea, I have to question the reality of the statement that if we stop using Glyphosate,

    “The situation in the low country will also become worse with the decline in the coconut, rubber and paddy sectors faced with rapid weed growth, parallel growth of rodents, snakes, mosquitoes and other pests characteristic of unmanaged tropical ecosystems. Such new and unregulated ecosystems take decades to self-regulate and become healthy.”

    I do not use Glyphosate and my crops are equal to or slightly higher than the regional average. His statement that ‘unmanaged tropical ecosystems’ are new and take decades to self regulate. Shows an abysmal lack in the understanding of ecology, especially tropical ecology. Ecosystems follow a process of seral maturity, where one sere creates the conditions for the next to develop. Ecosystems have to be evaluated in respect of the management goal, whether anthropogenic or natural. The biodiversity signatures identify the difference; it is also useful to note that what is a weed for the management of one system could be an essential plant to the other.

    Promoting toxins is evil, promoting violence to defend toxins, goes beyond the pale !!

    • 5

      Well said Ranil.

      I have been associated in crop production all my life. Toxins are toxins and will work itself into the food chain no matter how well you think you are controlling its use.

      This article is absolute nonsense. Of no value whatsoever. Glyphosate is just one of those horrible products that are still widely used. Time to ban other agricultural toxins as well and find sustainable ways to raise crops. I am glad that you are doing just that and getting better crops.

    • 1

      Ranil S is a gentleman who runs a one-man NGO and claims to be an expert on mangroves
      in Burma.
      He also sets himself up as an organic farmer, and when I challenged him in an Island article to give yields per hectare and costs of production of paddy from his “organic plots” he had no figures, but all he could do was to refer to a computer projection by some advocacy groups in california.

      The bringing back to goodness of abandoned tea estates is no mean task and will take many many years as Dr. Dharmawardana has said. In fact Dr. Pethiyagoda, an ex-director of TRI has said that he cannot think of what to plant in abandoned tea land to make them recover.

      The best solution is to continue to grow tea while slowly diversifying. But that cannot be done by abandoning modern methods of agriculture and going back to archeic models that have failed.

      The ban on Glyphosateb will lead to unplanned abandonment and serious soil erosion.
      Even then Ranil S and others will come back with some pie-in-the sky claim.

      • 2

        Bodhi Dhanapala,

        Thanks for enlightening me about Ranil however I will reserve mu judgement on Ranil until I do further research.

        But I am committed to finding agricultural practices that are sustainable and viable. Using chemicals is not the best way into the future. I do not believe that Glyphosate has solved the weeding problems in any tea estate or for that matter anywhere. I haven’t found a single tea estate in Sri Lanka or anywhere else where the fields are free of weeds as a result of the use of herbicides. For starters not easy to spray weeds among tea bushes without roundup getting into tea leaves. Many tea bushes die or droop and take a long time to recover. Our workers wear neither masks nor footwear as such ingest a high dose of the chemicals.

        When paraquat (Gramoxone) was introduced to Sri Lanka it was claimed as the miracle weedicide. We all know what paraquat did and continues to do. I remember reading a UN report that put the number of annual deaths in Sri Lanka as a result of Paraquat poisoning as between 400 and 500.

        Your claim elsewhere in the comment section that ‘Not one person in Sri Lanka has been affected by Glyphosate.’ is a little bit difficult to ingest when not accompanied by credible research and is akin to the claim made by Prof Dharmawardana that a ban of paraquat will lead to a youth uprising to equal the JVP and the LTTE uprisings.

      • 2

        My, My, looks as if Mr Dhanapala wants to question my person. While he should focus on the message and not the messenger, it is time to take up his challenge.

        I am the only qualified systems ecologist in this country, but have been ‘blackballed’ by the bureaucrats as I am not corrupt and cannot be bought. I do not cringe behind politicians or bureaucrats for positions or projects and have not had a single consultancy or been invited to sit on any official committee for over 35 years, as a result.

        I do consultancies for other countries and use my income to help Sri Lanka, I am proud of my record, now that you have begun this public debate what about your history ? What have you done with your life ?

        A one man NGO ? that’s a new one ! If anyone works outside the government it is a non government activity. It takes a group of us makes an organization. Silly Mr.Dhanapla does not seem to know this fact. If you want to know what has been achieved in the field, (www.belipola.com) my suggestion was that you visit and see for yourself rather than foaming at the mouth that I do not respond to your childish demands.

        The rather snide comments on my ability to do land restoration, must mean that this person knows what is best for the tea estates. As an ex-tea planter I would like to know what this individual’s history is, that he feels the authority to pontificate so much. If you want to consider the abandoned tea lands you might consider analog Forestry (www.analogforestry.org). Who do you think created the concept ? Now lets see what you have to offer or will it be more jealousy and invective ? If you teach as you claim, I feel truly sorry for the poor students .

        OK Mr.Dhanapala, you are on !! Lets examine each other in public and see who has more credibility to comment on the current situation. I have spent my life in the defence and betterment of Sri Lanka and can prove it. Let’s see your history !

  • 6

    This self -claimed professor is not a professor al all. He didn’t hold any substantive professorship at any university. It is well known that he is a strong stooge of MaRa and Gota being decomposed in the cesspit of the Hambantotota Cult. Excessive verbosity in his baseless writings is an attempt to hide his ignorance of the subject while trying to show off that he is a great academic.

  • 7

    Do we see the people in upcountry protesting the Glyphosate ban?
    It is clear what Prof.Chandare and his band of scientists are saying and doing!
    It is the sad story of our “so called” academics Selling their people and their motherland to the multinatnals.

  • 3

    The comments that we find here show how misinformed the public is about
    Glyphosate as well as about organic fertilizers.
    Organic fertilizers are contaminated by metal toxins that were bio-accumulated by the plants during their lifetime.
    Neem is the most dangerous, and yet neem compost is imported and used in Sri Lanka!

    I teach science at a technical college and follow this agro-chemical debate carefully. I prefer to follow the mainstream doctors, academics, and and scientists instead of following the half-baked internet gurus who have been trying to usurp the job of the agriculturalists, chemists, doctors and planters.
    The planters, superintendents, tea and rubber research institutes etc have years of experience and we must follow them. Most people who write here have probably not even grown an onion.

    Not one person in Sri Lanka has been affected by Glyphosate.

    The Kidney disease is now proven to be due to people drinking from their OWN HOUSEHOLD WELLS where the water has collected salts from the rocks and become
    unsuitable for drinking. The well water has no Glyphosate or agrochemicals.

    The appeal to the president has been signed by:

    Dr Tilak Abeysekara (Consultant Nephrologist)
    Dr Sarath Amarasiri( Former Director General of Agriculture)
    Prof. Rohana Chandrajith (Professor of Geology, University of Peradeniya)
    Dr Jinadari de Soyza (Former Director General of Agriculture)
    Prof. Chandre Dharmawardana (Former Professor of Chemistry and Vice Chancellor, Vidyodaya University)
    Dr Nande Dharmawardana (Former Director, Sugarcane Research Institute
    Dr Jinasiri Fernando (Director General of Agriculture)
    Dr Lionel Gunaratne ( Former Director, Dept. Of Export Agriculture)
    Dr Jayantha Gunatilleke (Former Director, Coconut Research Institute
    Dr Sarath Illangatilleke (Former Chairman, Tea Research Board)
    Prof.Oliver Illeperuma ( Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, University of Peradeniya))
    Dr S T W Kirinde (Former Director, Dept. Of Export Agriculture)
    Prof. Ananda Kulasooriya (Former Senior Professor of Botany, University of Peradeniya)
    Dr Ranjith Mahindapala (Former Director, Coconut Research Institute)
    Kamal Mankotte (Former Director General of Agriculture)
    Prof. Gamini Rajapaksa(Senior Professor of Chemistry, University of Peradeniya)
    Prof. K Samarasinghe (Professor & Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya))
    Prof. Upali Samarajeewa (Emeritus Professor of Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya)
    Prof. J Thattil ( Emeritus Professor of Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya)
    Dr L M K Tillakeratne (Former Director Rubber Research Institute)
    Dr Parakrama Waidyanatha (Former Chairman, Coconut Research Board)
    Dr Sarath Weerasena (Former Director General of Agriculture)
    Dr Stanley Weeratne (Former Professor, Faculties of Agriculture, Ruhuna & Rajarata Universities

    I am sure that they have done a better job of evaluating the risks of Glyphosate than
    those who go by rumor mongering in the internet. Many of these people have spent a lifetime studying agriculture, toxicity and related subjects.
    You can’t claim that all these scientists are in the “pay of the big companies”

    • 9

      Looks like we have another seriously irrational unscientific correspondent in our midst today…..

      On what basis does this person say, “The Kidney disease is now proven to be due to people drinking from their OWN HOUSEHOLD WELLS where the water has collected salts from the rocks and become unsuitable for drinking. The well water has no Glyphosate or agrochemicals.”?

      It is worth seeking answers to the following questions:
      -what are these toxic salts?
      -from what ‘rocks’ did they come?
      -how long have these ‘rocks’ been part of our ecosystem?
      -what is the toxic agent in these ‘salts’ that has been ‘proven’ to cause kidney disease
      -unless they are new and introduced by humans, why have these ‘salts’ not caused kidney disease in the past?
      -and lastly, where has this been ‘proven’ and by whom?

      Having said all that, I am not at all saying that glyphosate is the cause of kidney disease – that is still the 64 thousand dollar unresolved question.

    • 3

      Bodhi Dhanapala,

      Why are such ‘rocks’ with ‘toxic chemicals’ appear to exist ONLY in the bottom of wells in the north central province,
      where most cases of Kidney Failure have occurred?

      Why not, in other areas of Sri Lanka?

    • 0

      Bodi Dhanapala, how true.This ban the Glyphosate project is a political project.Champaka Ranawake is behind this.

      That half baked Ganams is there in a big way. He is the man who broke coconuts at Hikkaduwa against Asenic in fertilizer.These fellows should be exposed.

    • 3

      “Not one person in Sri Lanka has been affected by Glyphosate. “

      How do you know ?

      “You can’t claim that all these scientists are in the “pay of the big companies”

      Why not ? Big Pharma and their Medical Reps operate Sri Lanka completely unfettered. There is no National Drug Policy, There is no QC of any sort, the abuse of prescription drugs is rampant and antibiotic-resistant organisms are multiplying at an alarming rate. All this works in their favor and enables them to make even more money off our backs

      It’s the same with Big Agro – pretty soon they will ensure that our farmers will have no access to heritage seeds and have to go to Monsanto and Bayer in order to buy seed for every crop. And then they will have to go to them again to buy fertilizer and pesticides because the seeds wont grow without them.

      Our Yahapalana Government will make sure of that

      You needn’t worry

    • 2

      Bodhi Dhanapala
      You normally rise like a mechanised jack-in-the-box to pounce on any counter comment or criticism someone makes of what you say, but remarkably, you remain silent here.

      I repeat the questions.

      Please explain your logic (and hopefully the facts, if you can), by answering the following:
      -what are these toxic salts you claim cause kidney disease?
      -from what ‘rocks’ did they come?
      -how long have these ‘rocks’ been part of our ecosystem?
      -what is the toxic agent in these ‘salts’ that has been ‘proven’ to cause kidney disease?
      -unless they are new and introduced by humans, why have these ‘salts’ not caused kidney disease in the past?
      -and lastly, where has this been ‘proven’ and by whom?

      Or, are you just a quack rising to the defence of Chandre, who has doubtless sullied himself academically and professionally by making his absolutely outrageous claims of a terrorist consequence by banning glyphosate?!

      Also, please show us what stern stuff you are made of by responding to Ranil’s challenge on these pages.

  • 9

    Chandre should be much more circumspect about what he writes, else he runs a serious risk of his future thoughts being trashed just like those of the other partisan ‘professor’ Dyan Jayatilleke are.

    A little learning is a dangerous thing Chandre, so confine what you write to what you know (theoretical physics and quantum chemistry) and not ecology or commercial machinations of multinational companies!

  • 9

    When I was diagnosed with my cancer and the oncologist in the US ran a battery of tests, I tested positive for DDT residue and that was a good 25 years after being exposed to it in Ceylon in the seventies. Many of the herbicides have neurotoxins that gets absorbed into the plants and end up in our food chain and I wonder how the Professor can justify that? As for Prof Chandare’s assertion that there is no alternative to Glysophate, I beg to differ. Many of my planter friends from the fifties who ran tea plantations when no chemical herbicides were used, are of the view that only 25 sundry workers are needed to weed a 200 acre field. The problem of weeds in our tea plantations would not be such an issue, if the present day planters follow good management practices like infilling and ensuring that no vacancies are there in a tea field, as a good stand of tea would block the weeds from growing. Glysophate is a lazy planters refuge, and weeding is a manageable problem with labour, if the estates are run professionally.

  • 6

    CT sorry, sent to another column – please allow.


    Organic farming is done in Canada which exports much of the produce thus generated.
    Sri Lanka can do likewise and also eliminate ill-health due to pesticides including Glyphosate.
    Organic vegetables are popular in Canada.

  • 7

    Glyphosphate is quite possibly a cause of bee colonies collapsing, and this would spell doom for the World’s food supply, since a to of food crops are pollinated by bees.


    • 4

      Glyphosate is a herbicide and has no effect on animals,
      insects, or even amoeba.
      It is specific to the plant kingdom. That is why it is safe.

      This sort of remarks show the ignorance of the public.
      The cars, buses, lorries, and what they belch out
      from their exhaust is what kills the bees.

      But no one is calling for banning cars, trucks and buses.
      The stuff that is sprayed to kill dengue mosquitoes don’t
      help the bees either. But try stopping the spraying!

    • 0

      Evidence of Bees dying???? As of 2017, we are at a 20 year high of bee population. There are many “suspects” of killing bees. Neonicotinoid pesticides, Ethanol production, and many others. Bees are fine. Bees also have a very short lifespan, as well, the main factor of (if any) bee population decrease would be the Varroa Mite pest, not pesticides. It is time for environmentalists to get off their high horse and look at real world problems, not just their “Save the Earth, the sky is falling, we need an Agenda 21 approach!!!!!!” aspect.

  • 2

    Don’t read the Wikipedia. Go to the market and try to buy organic food. In Colombo
    the “traditional” organic rice is 5 to 10 times the price of normal rice.
    Who knows if the vetagebales and rice sold as “organic” are free of toxins. No chemical analysis of these rice varieties has been done.
    If they are grown with compost made with urban waste from Colombo, I will say, DON’T EAT IT. There is a big scam to just cater to the rich, and re-orient the agriculture system towards the more expensive low yileding organic sector that the Colombo elite want.
    This whole thing is morally wrong.

    If Glphosate is causing kidney disease, it is the people in the Tea estates who should have got kidney disease first.
    Anuradhapura and Padaviya is as far off from the Tea estates as it can be.

  • 2

    Why can’t the youth be employed to do the weeding manually ? That should solve your problem !

  • 1

    I was one that tested glyphosate in 1975 while in the Department of Agriculture. Subsequently I earned a PhD from University of Hawaii on the use of low levels of glyphosate for management of purple nutsedge (kalanduru) in crops. I just retired from a position of Senior Research Associate from the University of Colorado School of Medicine after 25 years of research related to cancer and iron chelation.

    I have read the publications by Dr. Jayasumana somewhat critically. He shows correlation rather than proof. In an agricultural society where many other pesticides are used, isolating one factor through correlation is not possible. There are flows in references (eg. He cites a paper from 1977 of a study conducted in Hawaii with glyphosate when it is in it’s infancy as a herbicide). Soils in Hawaii which are mostly of volcanic origin are very different from island to island and hence cannot be compared with clay soils of Sri Lanka. Also, he cites the kidney malformation in fish from glyphosate. Did he test the kidneys of fish from selected areas as proof or support? The arguments he uses are very weak without logic along with a lot of noise and cannot be considered as facts for such a huge decision as to ban the herbicide. Did any one see the correlation of Mahaweli water to the distribution of CKD? Many agricultural practices in the hill country used EDTA in fertilizer and other chemicals which is a stronger metal chelator than glyphosate. Supplying the farmers of affected areas with clean water is an economically better solution than banning glyposate that causes a greater economic damage.

    Gamini Siriwardana PhD.

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