3 March, 2024


Public Fears About Modern Agriculture, Pesticides & The Emergence Of The Two-Tier Food Market

By Chandre Dharmawardana

Prof. Chandre Dharmawardana

Prof. Chandre Dharmawardana

The fear that what you eat is “poisoned” and it is not good for you have produced a two-tier market with the top tier, made up of “organic foods” catering to the rich, while the ordinary people have to eat the food from the large warehouse sales centers, US examples being Costco and Wall-mart. The clout of the rich social segment is such that its campaign is likely to endanger the food market of the poor, especially in developing countries where safe pesticides and fertilizers have been banned by frightened politicians who are faced with various illnesses whose origins are often ill-understood, and hence simply blamed on “poisoned farming”. In Canada, a small group of people from Sri Lanka were trying to sell their “traditional rice” packets, and also collect money for their NGO, claiming that normal Sri Lankan rice is contaminated with arsenic (although there is no evidence to support such a claim).

Dr. Mercola’s writings

I decided to write this some what general article after reading some of Dr. Mercola’s write ups on GMOs and Glyphosate. Dr. Mercola is known to have glibly swallowed the “article” by Anthony Samsel and Dr. Stephanie Seneff, published in the pay-and-publish anything (PPA) “journal” named “Entropy” where the authors had presented pure speculations as “research”. The present article can be taken as a companion to my article about Glyphosate and its alleged capacity to cause Kidney disease that I put out as a response to Dr. Jeff Ritterman’s article on the mis-named “truthout.com” publication claiming that a group of Californian scientists have provided credible evidence that glyphosate causes kidney disease. Ritterman based himself on a speculative article published in another PPA journal, where the lead author was not Californian, but Dr Jayasumana of Sri Lanka. An account of these “predatory” for-profit PPA journals which are not peer-reviewed, and not run by learned societies, and live only on the internet.

Recently, when the WHO classified Glyphosate (in the same class as cell-phone radiation) as an agent that can “probably” cause cancer, there has been a flurry of public activity, with internet writers like Dr. Mercola cashing in on public apprehensions. An excellent, valid scientific discussion of all this can be fond in a TV-Ontario discussion which involved some of the leading researchers working on the toxicity of Glyphosate.

The new write up by Dr. Mercola adds nothing new. He says that Glyphosate inhibits protein synthesis needed for plant growth, and suppresses mineral uptake by plants. Indeed, the plants concerned are the weeds that we wish to eliminate, and we don’t eat the weeds, so to argue that “When minerals are bound to glyphosate in the plant, they will not be available to your body when you eat it” is misleading . If Dr. Mercola and others are worried about the parts-per-billion amounts of Glyphosate residues found in the environment, they should first of all worry about the parts per million amounts of petroleum, diesel, plastic toxins and coal-burning emissions found every where, and we should begin by banning the motor car. When you have cholera, you don’t worry about an in-growing toe-nail.

Dr. Mercola is well-known for his writings about health, and matters that impact on human health, usually espousing a view favoured by the Californian “alternative lifestyle” movements. This readership tends to be somewhat idealist, anti-establishment urbanites who have little experience with the realities faced by the farmer, or feeding the 7.3 billion people crowded on a planet with finite resources. Ranjith Mulleriyava has been writing to the Island Newspaper, and arguing with Dr. Ranil Senanayake, a well-known environmental scientist, on this very topic.

Agriculture, consumers and life-styles

Most of the problems in modern agriculture arise due to the incorrect, un-informed use of agro-chemicals. The soil is a living eco-system teeming with micro-organisms vital to the health of the soil. However, even these organisms need the minerals inputs for their existence, but an excess will kill them. The solution to our agricultural problems is not going back to out-dated methods which were discarded because they failed, but learning modern agricultural and chemical science. You cannot rely on the village general store to sell the agrochemicals and also provide the safe technical know how, while working under free-market conditions. Agrochemicals must be sold in the same way as medicine is sold by prescription, where a farmer gets the chemical prescription after soil tests by an agricultural technician. Instead of using informed agriculture and setting up the infra-structure for it, we have activists who want to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Many who oppose modern agricultural practices consider it “fashionable” to be skeptical about the “green revolution” and the fruits of technological progress. They are likely to regard main-stream medicine and psychiatry in the manner that such practice is depicted in the movie “One flew over a cuckoo’s nest”, based on Ken Kesey’s  novel. They view atomic energy within the “China syndrome” paradigm, and want “organic food totally free of contaminants” ! They blame big agri-business, Monsanto being a typical target. India, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries have their share of the prophets of doom and gloom who have no real solutions. Sarath Fernando of MONLAR used to claim that “Poisoned agriculture will slowly kill the world, while Shiva Vandana in India has made herself a career by protest action against GMO foods in India, preventing the introduction of “golden rice” (engineered to contain Vitamin A sources),  that could have saved millions.
However, while the California activists are worried about the activities of the food industry and agri-business, they insist on market competition and getting the best value for their dollar. Today they want milk in the US at less than a dollar per litre, an egg at less than a quarter (25 cents), a kilo of beef at less than $10, and a kilo of potatoes at less than $3! This has to pay the retailers, middlemen and finally the farmer, ensuring that the small farmer is dead!

The consumer and the current model of free markets are forcing on us industrial mass production. The same consumer has a lifestyle where  s/he wants his/her fruits extra sweet, food well salted, flavoured  and delivered extra fast, with extra servings, ketchup and pickle. All pop drinks are laced with sugar. Even a glass of “unsweetened’ orange juice may have over 30g of sugar! That the uncontrolled consumption of salt and sugar is  largely poisonous is ignored. So a vast industry has arisen to carter to them, where we see even traditional Asian cultures embracing the fast-food franchises of the industrial nations they imitate.

However, unlike in the West where the population is stable or even dwindling, the “developing countries” have  population growths which usually exceed their rates of economic growth. Even more explosively, developing nations have aspirations of life-styles acquired from glamor TV shows which depict families living in 5000 sq. ft. climate-controlled homes with designer toilets, swimming pools and multi-car garages, consuming vast amounts of water and energy.  Naturally, the developing nations also want highways, fly-overs and the convenience of plastic wrap. They will consume vast amounts of energy within the next decades.

Today, every person’s blood contains significant amounts of gasoline (petrol) residues, pharmaceuticals and plastic residues from the use of automobile and plastics. Each discarded computer, cell phone or fluorescent light adds arsenic, mercury and other toxins to the environment. The pharmaceuticals consumed by individuals to control cholesterol, hypertension, fertility and so on end up in sewers discharged into the water table, becoming toxic to the biosphere. No government insists that the manufacturers take back their used products, as each nation’s market wants to be competitive against other nations. This frenzied human activity is reflected even in our climate which is “just giving up”. The developing nations blame the West for high consumerism per capita, while the developed nations blame the poor but highly populated nations for high consumption in toto. Nobody really obeyed the Kyoto accord.

Those familiar with any Asian capital will remember how leisurely houses with large “gardens” in “residential areas” have been replaced by rabbit warrens of “flats” and apartments that now teem with humans. Palm trees and forest cover and even marshes have disappeared and taken over for human habitations. Wild animals have no place to go and are threatened with extinction by loss of habitat and poachers. If human populations and their greed have grown to the bursting point, and if the governments, usually run by men who care only for the vote do nothing, the only option is to look for the best technological solutions that will provide a solution to the existing mess caused by human greed and excessive fecundity.

Technological advances

One of the great successes in this sense was the discovery of a method of converting atmospheric nitrogen into Ammonia by Fritz Haber (Nobel laureate, 1918) enabling us to make synthetic fertilizers. Most of the modern Nitrogen fertilizers are made via the “Haber process”, and this is a chemical reaction which absorbs some energy. But the energy cost of this fertilizer is minimal compared to the energy costs of production of most alternative fertilizers, contrary to the claims of some writer who say that “mineral fertilizers” require a lot of energy to produce them (The phosphates needed  in fertilizer mixes has  to be mined, be it using modern or traditional methods). In any case the Haber process can be run using solar, hydro or other sustainable energy sources. If not for the Haber process, according to Prof. Smil Vaclav, “with average crop yields remaining at the 1900 level, the crop harvest in the year 2000 would have required nearly four times more land and the cultivated area would have claimed nearly half of all ice-free continents, rather than under 15% of the total land area that is required today”.

It is this single advance by Haber that has enabled the human kind to feed itself in the face of the phenomenal rise in human population since the discovery of the origin of many diseases, and their control by vaccines, antibiotics and the increasing availability of clean water and hygiene. Most human being living today are “synthetic” in the sense that (~80% of) their body tissues are made from Nitrogen harvested via the Haber process!

The human life span has more than doubled compared to the 19th century, infant mortality has dropped, and most dreaded diseases of our grand-parents are now a matter of memory. All this adds to the rapid rise in populations. Then came the Green revolution of Borlaug (Nobel laureate 1970, and World-Food prize), and modern varieties of high-yield rice, followed by methods in genetic engineering (GMO foods). Ignoring that that these advances are the main stay of our food supply that feeds billions (while a lot of people in Africa who use traditional agriculture still remain hungry), we now have the “organic lobby” wanting to go back to “traditional agriculture” using traditional seeds, throwing out not only GMO, but even hybrids!

Organic farming

Proponents of “organic farming” want to use compost as their fertilizer. Of course, compost and the labour force needed are hard to find. Compost pits are notorious for emitting green-house gasses injurious to the climate. As plants accumulate metals and other toxins, the re-use of plant matter in “compost” needs to be done in tandem with chemical analysis. Different soils need different fertilizer mixtures, and this cannot be easily done except by high-tech methods. Furthermore, traditional seeds need more water, more land, longer periods of growth, more manual work, and finally give poor yields. I remember a series of articles in the Island Newspaper, Colombo, where Dr. Ranil Senanayake, when asked to provide data on yields and profitability, presented some theoretical computer-model estimates from a group in California. If I understand him right, Dr. Senanayake went on to argue that “traditional agriculture” can feed the world and that there is no other “rational” choice.

However, Sri Lankan agricultural scientists have made actual field studies giving a clearer picture of the present situation. For instance, Dr. KMC Bandara  from the Rice research Institute in Batalagoda and colleagues from the Peradeniya University (GRMD. Gunawardane and LHP. Gunaratne) published an “Evaluation of relative performances of organic rice cultivation based on experimental evidence” (Proceedings of the Peradeniya University Research Sessions, Sri Lanka, Vol. 14, 3rd December 2009, p403), where they used a traditional variety known as <span class=”T2″>Sudu Heenati</span> as a comparison against the popular hybrid seed BG360, with compost-fertilizer and mineral-fertilizer approaches used in the comparison. They conclude that:

“Both traditional and improved varieties had better performances with inorganic fertilizer compared to that with organic practices. The highest yield was recorded by conventionally grown improved variety which was 6.93 t/ha whereas the lowest yield was given by organically grown improved variety which was 3.39 t/ha. Conventionally grown traditional variety recorded a higher yield than organically grown traditional variety (5.30 t/ha vs. 4.45 t/ha).”

“The breakdown of the total cost of cultivation revealed that the highest cost component was the labour, irrespective of the variety or fertilizer applied. The organic practices were more labour intensive than modern practices due to organic inputs, transportation costs, and use of buffaloes in land preparation. The analysis further revealed that conventionally grown improved variety outperforms all with respect to the yield, revenue and the profit thus rejecting the claims of organic rice promoters. Analysis of benefit-cost ratios and break-even prices corroborate the same. Organically grown improved varieties did not perform well due to inadequate supply of nutrients as these improved varieties are unable to grow well under organic fertilizers which release nutrients slowly.”

Although these are the facts, various organizations, often sphere-headed by respected Buddhist monks, Hindu Kururals or evangelicals operate in Sri Lanka, India and other Asian countries, pushing the agenda of “traditional seeds”. Many NGOs do contract planting for niche markets. A few scientists, often without any training in agriculture, chemistry or any such relevant disciplines come forward as” “Champions” of these causes, and provide credence to beliefs which are often only a little better than urban myths. We see this phenomenon even among some electrical engineers who have come forward to oppose the setting up of cell-phone transmission aerials, claiming that the strong radiation will cause cancer in the neighboring populace. In electromagnetic waves, the energy or “strength” is determined by the frequency, and not by the “power” of the signal, as Einstein proposed in 1905 in his theory of the photo-electric effect. No exception what so ever to this law has ever been found, except in the minds of those who believe that the use of cell-phones will give them brain cancer. There are always PPA “journals” willing to publish such claims.  Even the WHO was politically influenced to classify cell-phone radiation as a “possible cause” of cancer, as it takes off their responsibility from the issue, even though over 10 billion Wi-Fi devices have now been used in the world for over a decade, with not one properly substantiated case of cancer caused by Wi-Fi radiation.

Our Conclusions

The concern over glyphosate, pesticides etc. is totally mis-directed given that much more serious environmental threats at some three orders of magnitude higher in intensity exist in our environment, our food and water. It is similar to the red-herring concerns about Wi-Fi and cell-phone radiation. On the other hand, the use of gasoline vehicles, many types of plastics, glues, fire-retardants and paints have to be curtailed, and better methods for the disposal of electronic waste have to be developed, long before we worry about parts per billion presence of glyphosate in the environment. A push to severely restrict the intake of sugar and salt, inputs of nitrates in cured meat, enacted roughly on the lines of the anti-tobacco effort has to be launched. Cured meat and even red meat are likely to be carcinogenic, and the consumption of meat is ecologically hard to defend. Technology has solutions to feed “carnivorous” individuals and save the ecosystem.

The push for organic agriculture is largely a movement catering to the worried wealthy social strata who want “custom-made” design food, “organic beef” (and perfect bodies at any cost, including cosmetic surgery). These can provide niche markets for specialized agriculture and specialized services, but it cannot ever serve the whole populace.

“Sustainable agriculture” has no meaning in a world where even the existing population has rapidly increasing insatiable demands due to unsustainable aspirations for greedy life-styles. This earth, with its limited supply of water, phosphate, and other crucial minerals cannot ever support these demands via “traditional agriculture”, unless we have a method of reducing the world’s population back to what it was in the 19th century.

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Latest comments

  • 2

    Glyphosate is not carcinogenic as long as the recommended doses are used.

    Its used successfully in countries where there is strict regulation.

    The kidney problems in SL were caused because the farmers deployed more than the safe limit purely for commercial gain and carelessness.

    • 1

      How about the long term accumulation of glyphosate in systems ?

      Dosages are for short term.

      Besides, even the countries that produce these chemicals have adopted the Integrated management and their last resort is pesticide or herbicides. They monitor the temperature, himidity and weed or insect growth and their last resort is pesticides.
      they use biological agents a lot to control weeds.

      Sri lanka is using it as the front level defence.

    • 1

      Glyphosphate interacting with certain Chemicals in the soil and water in affected areas in Sri Lanka causes cancer, Stupid!

      Is this Chandra Dharmawardene a quack paid off by Monsanto to plug its carcinogenic products?!

      The UN and its agencies like the WHO which are payed off by big business acts very slowly. So if even the UN’s WHO says that Glyphosphate cuases cancer, I certainly believe it.

      The WHO only recently noted that processed meet also causes cancer – a fact that has been public knowledge for decades.. I stopped eating processes meats 20 years ago because it was known that the chemicals in processed meat causes cancer.

    • 0

      Whaaaat…. This guy says the same thing the NWO scumbags are trying to implement… He says…” unless we have a method of reducing the world’s population back to what it was in the 19th century”.

      Let us start with his own family sacrificed for the betterment of the so called De-Population as planned by the Zionists.

      The world can have food for 10 Billion live-stocks but, the problem is to feed the human beings. There is ample food and water enough to feed the entire world population. The problem is the Jewish controlled Media and the Industry and Geo-Political crimes is covering up their crimes and and pillaging/hoarding the wealth of the world which is controlled by the few.

      What I think is the writer of this article has bought the ideas of the criminals who are plundering the wealth of the world and destroying everything that was harmonious until the Zionists started to colonize the lands owned by weaker sections of the world and introduced unimaginable evils on the humanity.

      This will explain what is going on in this world…..:

      Preston James – Hitler, Putin, Khazars & Aliens

      Methods of Depopulation

      Agenda 21 & Eugenics – Bill Gates Depopulation Plans Exposed

      The Great Dumbing Down of Humanity and the Depopulation Agenda…

  • 1

    Every action to prevent pollution of the environment is of value and there can be no argument that this or that should be done first.

    If dangerous chemicals have to be used, this has to be done under a regime of strict controls, safety and monitoring, all of which are not available in Sri Lanka. Selling such chemicals to illiterate farmers and hoping for the best is not an option.

    Organic foods being grown on a commercial scale by recognized corporates prove that ‘it can be done’ and no amount of white papers will prevent the discerning consumer from choosing to protect his health to the best of his ability.

    • 1

      Mackka says Organic foods being grown on a commercial scale by recognized corporates prove that ‘it can be done’
      Indeed, so far less than about 1% of the food market is “organic”, and only a small fraction of the consumers can afford that food. What this writer says is that going organic is NOT viable for the whole world, and that the so called poisoned food is less important than the pollution coming from automobiles and other sources.

      • 1

        I usually buy Organic if available. It is not that expensive. But then I usually buy fresh fruit and vegetables and eat home cooked food rather than spend more money on fast foods from the myriad of outlets dotting the landscape which most people are prone to do. As a result I have never been in hospital or suffered serious illness for the last 40 years.

        So isn’t it better to encourage the cultivation of Organic food if someone can do so in a commercially viable manner than trying to kill their effort in the nascent stages?

  • 3

    Prof. Chandre Dharmawardana,

    Your article and its future aspirations for booming and bourgeoning populations, is more pertinent to capitalistic countries that industrialized themselves after World War 2, e.g. Japan and S.Korea, that followed the American technique – America which destroyed her arable land when they drove Native Indians off their traditional farms, and then were swamped by millions upon millions of immigrants from Europe and other parts of the world, and therefore had no other way forwards other than to petro-chemicalize and implement the GMO procedure.

    Such a technique for Sri Lanka is thankfully unwarranted as yet, and there is still time to implement the post-modern structure away from the failing structure of capitalistic industrialist America, and that China is trying to emulate for the sole purpose of wrenching monetary control away from.

    This is the last thing Sri Lanka needs to succumb to, in building up her national aspirations. Being the original land of Buddhist thought, it is better to look at countries that strive to remain true to the Buddhist spirit- Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, and even Thailand.

    Therefore, it is the duty of our governing bodies to come to some compromise over wanting to modernize the old-fashioned way, and wanting to modernize the post-modern way.

    There is plenty of scope and latitude exactly for this kind of purpose in Sri Lanka, and we hope that Ranil will subscribe to the post-modern movement that better-educated America is attempting to implement at this time (Sirisena industrialized all his rice farms towards the old-fashioned capitalistic technique) – now also, that the Pope has also endorsed Bernie Sanders for future American president.

    Let’s start from the traditional organic farmer, and then re-structure from around there shall we?

    • 1

      What is this “post-modern” agriculture and the thoughts of Lord Buddha that this writer Ramona T. Fernando is talking about?

      The Buddha taught people to renounce the world. Monks living in a temple are told in the Vinaya Pitaka to not to even plant a plot of vegetables, as they should not get attached to farming etc. Besides, farming involves killing and managing insects, weevils, bugs, snails and bigger pests like rabbits etc. Also, Buddha did not teach people how to do agriculture. – he taught how to control Thanha (greed), and that is of course pertinent.

      Ramona is appealing to DR. Ranil Senanayake, who has actually written many articles to the Colombo Telegraph. Ranil S seems hooked on traditional agriculture and traditional seeds that failed to even feed the small population of this land in ancient times. The first agricultural region in Lanka was the Mannar area, with its Yodha Wewa, which had to be abandoned as the soil lost minerals and so the rice bowl moved more east, and finally, after the invasions, it moved towards Pollonaruwa and further south of the Mahaweli into the eastern dry zone to link with the Ruhuna dry zone.

      As I mentioned before in a previous response to an article by Ranil S, the continuing famines were one reason why Buddhism then in practiced sinhala, and held by memory by monks as Pali sutras, was written down at Aluvihara, as they feared that even the monks will die of famine and bring the Buddha saasana to an end. The chronicles and other texts list many famines, droughts etc.

      In ancient times, in Sri lanka (and in most parts of the world) , the feudal lords, lived well. Then the influential Brahamins, Monks who had the patronage of the Feudals lived well. After that the common man and the begging mendicants led a painful hard life, fighting not only hunger, but bugs, mosquitoes, amoeba, allergies, flash floods, followed by long periods of drought. Theresa Fdo seems to think that tropical countries were “more salubrious” than “Europe” (according to one of her previous interventions). The salubrious countries were in the Mediterranean and North Indian latitudes and that is where the first civilizations arose. The tropical countries were full of mosquito, amoeba, microbes and dangerous reptiles etc. The Wet zone of Sri Lanka was never penetrated by the ancients, until almost the 12th century when iron implements became more plentiful. The hills, being cooler, were less full of mosquitoes, bugs and the “Malaya Rata” was slightly more accessible.

      In 1900 the world used old-fashioned agriculture, and its population was less than 2 billion, and Sri Lanka had less than 4 million people, while in 1700 it was about a quarter of a million. Counting the number of villages mentioned in the Chronicles etc., both Sri Lankan and outside scholars have estimated that the best ancient population of Sri lanka was probably about one million. Majority of those one million people lived at the edge of poverty and hunger.

      Is that the post-modern agriculture that Ramona T. Fdo is thinking of, so that a wealthy few can eat organic rice and organic vegetables, while the others perish?
      That is why I thank the author of this article, while I don’t agree with him on population growth in underdeveloped countries etc, if he is hinting on population control. Family planning yes, but no attempt at government population control can be condoned.

      • 3

        Bodhi ,

        “Post-modern agriculture” is part of the environment protection scheme Buddha preached about. For in post-modern aka traditional farming, man lives with nature and does not tamper with it in ways that are unnatural.

        “In fact, Buddhism represents the way of compassion. The Buddha manifested a complete compassion and is respectfully seen as the compassionate protector of all beings. He taught that for those who wish to follow his Path should practice loving-kindness, not to harm the life of all beings – not only to protect mankind, but also to protect animals and vegetation. With his perfect wisdom, He saw all beings in the universe were equal in nature, and in this phenomenal world, lives of all human and animals were inter-related, mutually developing, and inseparable.” http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha006.htm

        You say farming involves killing and managing insects, weevils, bugs, snails and bigger pests like rabbits etc. These might have happened on European farms, but not on the Lankan Buddhist farm. All those animals worked cooperatively for crops to grow. If there was e.g. a plague of insects, and crops died, ancient people used an insurance and altruistic scheme where they went to another part of the country that was thriving and got the necessary assistance.

        Buddhist priests were not supposed to farm, but to preach, meditate and follow the 8 precepts. But together with the kings of yore, they gave out lands to the people to farm and live well on. It was crown and temple land, very much like the crown and church lands of the Europeans. Buddhist priests taught precautionary measures to the laity on, how to not kill pests who ate their crops, but to work with and around them. Sri Lanka and many other Buddhist countries were rice bowls of prosperity.

        All those pestilences, plagues, and mosquitoes that you speak of came about after the White man came to our shores, and brought the diseases from the corruption and immorality and debauchery of Europe. After the White man cut down all the forests for their tea and rubber estates, environmental disaster occurred, and hence did floods and swampy conditions occur, thus rousing up the mosquitoes.

        Sri Lanka had an ancient civilization long before Mediterranean and North Indians. They didn’t need to sit writing about it because it was a constancy of livelihood based on nature. They did not need to build and invent too much, and create currency systems to trade, because there was perpetual self-sufficiency. Most countries along the equator did not need to stress out with developing all kinds of pots and ornaments, because everything was paradise for them already.

        There was no way of counting people in those days. Census bureaus came about within the last 100 years. It’s only within the last 50 years can we truly count people correctly. Sri Lanka probably had the same amount of people throughout. But let’s say that it might be correct, that when counting villages at the time of the Chronicles, the population was probably about 4 million. With more people and a greater availability of advanced organic farming methods (traditions peoples have shared their ideas and methods), it is better that more people involve themselves with agriculture. Compare that with forcing our rural population to sit making e.g. Victoria Secret underwear.

        GMO foods are for large continents and countries that have lost their traditional livelihood to implement the industrial and commercial money-making machine to uphold the Western currency. Nothing wrong with that – we can help somewhat, the Western world to maintain their currency, and enjoy some of their modern contrivance.

        But out of all the things we can do to enjoy the Western contrivance, do we need to destroy the natural grains that we evolved with, and that suits our gut-system. Do we need to implement grain that has been tampered with genetically, that our stomachs will have a terrible time of digesting them, thus effecting our young ones’ guts, and forcing a unnatural evolution upon us (cancer included), all for the sake of upholding maintaining a trade and commerce a la Western World (with a Black man at their helm) as a new gold standard.

        We are a small country, about the same population of the Scandinavian countries. Scandinavia has a post-modern approach. It will be very easy for us too, to implement post-modernism in the same way. Russia also, has banned GMO crops in preference of small farming holdings.

        • 1

          Ramona F says: All those pestilences, plagues, and mosquitoes that you speak of came about after the White man came to our shores, and brought the diseases from the corruption and immorality and debauchery of Europe.

          Please get real, and learn the facts. You think diseases arise from immorality?
          Read Sri Lanka’s history or at least the Mahaawansa for what it is gives. The Baeminitya saaya (a long famine mentioned in the chronicles) and dozens of pestilences are recorded in the country’s history.

          The king owned the land, and donated some to the temples to ensure his place in heven, and the ordinary people worked in th lands essentially as surfs, and eked out a hard subsistence life, working hard in the hot sun, with poor tools, subject to hook worm, tapeworm, chigella, amoeba, mosquitos, filaria and all the well-known problems of the tropics including typhoid, cholera (paachanaya), e-coli, diphtheria, mumps (ali hakka), whooping cough (kakkal kaessa) chicken pox, small pox, leprosy, plague (maha maariya), flu, heart and kidney disease, etc, etc., you name it. These diseases were all there even during Buddha’s time, and were rampant in our villages.

          It is the malnutrition and the diseases that kept the poplulation at less than a million most of the time.

          Most of these diseases and even hook worm are unheard of since the advent of modern science, medicine and chlorinated water (yes, to kill the bugs).

          Try drinking unchlorinated water while applying compassion to the amoeba and chigella. I am a buddhist but I am also a realist who follows the middle path.

          Try growing at least a plot of Tomatoes in Colombo in a back garden and see how you can control the viruses,caterpillars, snails etc., using your methods of “working around them”. Try controlling the viruses using your methods.

          Vietnam is a Buddhist country, and has a huge growing population. So they have invited Monsanto to set up a biotechnology institute, and train their agricultural scientists in modern methods of biotechnology.

          • 2

            Oh no, no, no no Bodi…… Your Buddhism of the Middle-Path does not take into account the Middle-Path of the historical chronological dimension.

            For example, in you trying to grow tomatoes in your back yard, you do not have the understanding of the pre-colonial Lankans on how to work Buddhistically with nature. The technique requires a larger community to do so, with a Buddhist Priest in charge. The techniques have been probably lost in the mayhem of colonization and post-colonization, and whenever it tries to resurface, big Western money comes in the way (like what is happening to Vietnam, and Vietnam wants to avoid another Vietnam War with the Americans, and so they agreed on a GMO research facility).

            If there were the plagues and famines in the proportions you speak of, Lanka would not have thrived with a robust history. If there were calamities, they were the same world over, but in ancient Lanka, Lankan ancients had their own technique of dealing with natural catastrophes…..till the White man came and destroyed the culture. All the diseases you mention are European diseases.

            In the end, what GMO industry might do (or what we hope that GMO-industry will soon do), is take over the organic industry, do all kinds of scientific research testing (to secure the science industry that is connected to Wall-street), put it on the global stock-exchange, and call GMO a new name.

          • 3

            “they have invited Monsanto to set up a biotechnology institute”

            Wonderful ! Monsanto has clearly paid someone off to get this “invitation”. I have no doubt that Vietnamese politicians are as corrupt as any other.

            Pretty soon the Viet farmers will pay dearly for that invitation when Monsanto tells them the their rice crop is a patented one and the farmers must pay for the privilege of growing rice in his own field and he cannot save any of his heritage seeds for the next crop – or he WILL get sued.

            If you dont believe me, check articles on what happened to grain farmers having fields adjacent to a Monsanto lab.

            This article is a thinly-veiled, thin edge of the wedge for, with our new-found alliances with the West, we are ripe for Agri-business to rape

            As for me, I would prefer NOT to eat any glyphospates or Golden Rice. I did not have them in my youth and I certainly dont need them now. Thank you very much !

            If Mr. Dharmawardana wishes to do so, he is of course welcome to.. and have a few shots of “Roundup” with my blessing. Dont forget to add some BGH into his kids milk AND build a house under the hi-tension power transmission lines from Kelanitissa and move in with his family

            For if he truly has the convictions of his article, then we will see whether these things are as benign as he claims they are!

          • 1

            Bodhi – RTF (CT’s resident cow) is like a bitch with a bone in defending her positions, regardless of her endless cliches, gobbledygook and idiotic claims that only serve to display her profound ignorance.

            Best advice would be not to engage her in trying to make sense of her nonsense!

            • 0


              What’s with the mean, twisted rage? Don’t you have decent counter-argument? Comments you make will be taken as.being made by a wimp.

              • 0

                Ramona TF – “counter arguments” with you are a waste of time – hence my advice to Bodhi.

                If you had a modicum of intelligence you would have gathered (by now) the number of disagreements and contradictions to your mostly meaningless comments by commenters qualified in the subjects you have commented on, have had absolutely no effect on you and you come back to them with more rubbish. That was the reason for the “bitch with a bone” remark!

                Anyway, I must admit that you are tireless in attempting to make us understand your nonsense, in spite of the fact that hardly anyone agrees with you.

                • 0


                  They must be having some modicum of intelligence, otherwise, what’s with your hissy fits of wimpy comments?

                  • 0

                    RTF – Like I said “like a bitch with a bone” and you go on to prove it!!

                    Over and out!

                    • 0


                      I feel proud to write for the Motherland. You, instead have little argumentative technique, and go out of control with expletives. What a sad and sorry case.

        • 1

          Ramona Therese
          For someone with a very Western name,you seem to have some pretty peculiar ideas. If as you suggest, we go back to our pure Buddhist roots, I fear all of us will have to give up the following foreign items:
          Chillies ,Potatoes, Tomatoes,Manioc(S.American)
          Kokis,Kavun ,Aappa, Indiaappa, Halapa,Pittu (Kerala)
          Bread (Western)
          Our ancestors must have had such an interesting diet with rice, kolakenda and beans every day. No wonder they got married at12 and survived to the ripe old age of 40(if they didn’t get trampled to death by the family buffalo).

          • 0

            old codger,

            Chillies ,Potatoes, Tomatoes,Manioc(S.American) Kokis,Kavun ,Aappa, Indiaappa, Halapa,Pittu (Kerala) Bread (Western) replaced our ancient healthy diet that we have forgotten, due to the ravages of colonization. Actually, we had most of those fresh foods, but they were called other names. History was written from the Western perspective, and so what was introduced to their countries, we feel was also introduced to ours. Chillies and manioc, for example, was plentiful along all countries along the equator. We ate roti, without yeast (which is so much more healthy). In fact white people came to our country for our food.

            After Europeans came and started raping our daughters, marriage age became 12, for protection of our girls. Otherwise women were given am ample time to browse till the age of 40.

            When people were driven off their farms for tea and rubber production for British, people lost the ability to even look after buffalos in the time-honored way.

            As per my name….it’s a Sinhalese/Tamil one, with a colonial connotation. It gives me a further chance make the non-GMO message a more real one (if I had a Sinhala/Tamil name, it would be that I was protecting my own local industry, but having a Spanish name adds more authenticity to the message).

          • 2

            old codger

            After reading ramona mother therese fernando’s typing, were you looking for a wall to bang your head?

            Please don’t do it.

            • 0


              It is essential to argue the point till the truth is more apparent.

            • 0

              I couldn’t find a wall with a nail in it.
              I don’t believe RTF is for real. She(?) is simply goading us on for the fun of it.
              “marriage age became 12, for protection of our girls. Otherwise women were given am ample time to browse till the age of 40.”
              Obviously she doesn’t understand irony either.

              • 0

                Old coger,

                Goading?…….that is yours, surely, as per your replies……..irony?……..what part of women browsing till age 40, ails you, that you find it ironic and goading?

  • 1

    . “Ignoring that that these advances are the main stay of our food supply that feeds billions (while a lot of people in Africa who use traditional agriculture still remain hungry), we now have the “organic lobby” wanting to go back to “traditional agriculture” using traditional seeds, throwing out not only GMO, but even hybrids!”

    Very good article. The prof has put paid to a lot of sacred cows like cellphone radiation and organic farming, with well-argued propositions.

    “they should first of all worry about the parts per million amounts of petroleum, diesel, plastic toxins and coal-burning emissions found every where, and we should begin by banning the motor car. When you have cholera, you don’t worry about an in-growing toe-nail.”
    On the dot, Professor.
    By the way, this is much more rational than your writings on the bridge to India.

  • 3

    In a world where markets determin practice there is no rationality as professor advocates. It is greed driven no rationality. Geneticaly modified plants as we all know needs pesticides and insecticides and new protiens are introduced to the food chain. Any new protien introduced to the food chain carry risks to human health and the new genes introduced to native plants increases the risk new disease. On the long term the process is inefficient and carry high risk to humanity. For far too long we have succumbed to the arguments brought forward by professors that is evident in the increased incidence of metabolic diseases and cancer. Agricultural policy is determined by the chaos created by rapid urbanisation and new economic policies not the basic human need. As long as there is no rationalisation of economic policies with the blind leading the blind humanity will be walking into a precipice strewn with new diseases and suffering.

  • 4

    Bhutan will soon become a 100% Organic Farming country.
    It produces enough rice and maize for its own consumption.


    Bhutan farmers are independent of Monsanto and other similar companies.
    Sri Lanka should borrow Bhutan’s expertise and do away with dependence on the ‘Monsanto clique’, and more importantly, prevent citizens dying of kidney disease.

    • 0

      Bhutan will soon have to import its food.
      Don’t believe what the Bhutan govt says.

      The CIA and Western agencies give its population as 2.3 million,
      while the Bhutan Govt. gives it as a less than a million (0.75 million).

      The Bhutanese govt. is probably not capable of anything more than
      “traditional agriculture” for the moment.
      If its population is really 0.75 million, then
      “traditional agriculture” can feed that number because the country is
      3/4 the size of Sri Lanka which has 29 times more people but only 1.33
      times bigger.

      If you want to prevent Kidney disease, stop sending people to insalubrious
      places. No body went there till the mid sixtees because of Malaria. When
      Malaria was eradicated, too many people went there too rapidly, putting
      tube wells all over the place. There is no Kidney disease in Anuradhapura
      where people drink piped municipal water.

      • 1

        You should send your statistics on Bhutan to Wikipedia.

  • 1

    when ever the glyphosate (round-up) issue start surfacing we find some professor or Dr as they called themselves appear to dispute it and talk on behalf of the Multi National Mafia companies.These pesticides have already been proved to be the main cause for this kidney disease. Instead of further propagating and joining the payrols of MNC’s people must support to eradicate these harmful pesticide use.

  • 2

    I have been collecting information on Chronic kidney disease of unknown origin in raja rata. What i gathered is that a group of researchers were taken for a ride by GOD NATHA to pinpoint arsenic as the cause of CKDU. GOD NATHA now conducts a business on traditional rice and kenda.

    • 3

      Ha Ha, most insightful comment. We were taken for a ride 30 years ago by the corn oil mafia telling us that coconut oil was bad. Now the same people are selling coconut oil for 30 dollars a bottle.
      Now the fad is organic food.Let those who are willing pay Rs250 per kg of rice buy it if they prefer. I have survived to this ripe old age eating Nadu and Samba, so I don’t see any point in changing.
      Can any of the experts tell us how many people in a thousand have died due to eating non-organic food? Farmers are dying, but it is not due to eating their own products.
      Organic farming simply cannot supply food at current prices. Chemical fertilizer used carefully will.
      Has anyone heard about the Great Bengal famine in 1942? Look it up in Wikipedia. That was a LOT worse than CKD.

      • 1

        @old codger

        What is your definition of “non organic food” ?

        The organic movement is simply a reaction to the billion-dollar pesticide, GMO and artificial fertiliser industries which result in unnatural products being introduced to our bodies, the long-term effects of which are unknown but short-term profits are very well known

        For example, fish DNA/genes being introduced into a tomato to make it cold resistant.

        We never had to deal with such abominations in our youth and your longevity is probably due to that (and your genes), and not that you consume pesticides in regular doses.

        Sure, we have heard of famines. The presence of these so-called miracles created by the Monsato’s of this world have done NOTHING to alleviate recent famines. Why ? Because no one could/would pay for it.

        Ultimately, this whole sad, pitiful game is about the ability to control the worlds food supply and profit. NOT about some generous notion of creating a better world

        I mean.. who the hell has the right to patent LIFE ????

        • 1


          ” We never had to deal with such abominations in our youth “
          We probably would not have survived our youth if we did not have hybrids like IR8 rice. These are also artificially modified(by different means ) varieties, which are less hardy than traditional varieties, but several times more productive. Genetic modification has been around since Mendel’s time.

          ” I mean.. who the hell has the right to patent LIFE ???? “
          Would you have said the same about Gregor Mendel?
          Remember, tomatoes were considered poisonous at one time!

  • 0

    Prof. Dharmawardane’s arguments are quite rational. However, glyphosate also has an impact on bio-diversity. In order to have a healthier world, all herbicides and pesticides must be used with great care and a greater knowledge of its impact on the environment.

  • 1

    Anyone would prefer to consume products grown without agrochemicals. But, would it be the real world ? Probably the reason for CKDU is improper use of agrochemicals.

  • 4

    It is a pity that the ‘nozzle heads’ are so busy defending toxic agriculture that they seem to have forgotten that; farmers in this country did not suffer the levels of non-communicable diseases until they were coaxed into the ‘Green Revolution’ about the end of the 1960’s. The incidence of CKD, cancers and repertory diseases shot up after 1970. Co-incidence?

    The tragedy of the so-called ‘Green Revolution’ has been exposed many times. A system that makes small farmers totally dependent on the corporate sector was designed and sold to traditional farmers as ‘development’ or as the ‘Green Revolution’. Once the farm and the farmer have become totally dependent on the chemical and fossil energy inputs to maintain productivity they become ‘addicts’ of chemical farming. And as much as any addict, will go through any lengths to defend their habit.

    Demanding clean food and climate responsibility does not make one an organic farmer. It is concern for our health and the health of our children that makes chemical farming irrational. Following that, there are the concerns about the loss of biodiversity, concerns about loss of sustainability, concerns about contributing to climate change, brought about by chemical farming.

    When stating that “ If I understand him right, Dr. Senanayake went on to argue that “traditional agriculture” can feed the world and that there is no other “rational” choice.” I would like to state that the author has not understood it right, pity! He should not make such silly assumptions! It is not ‘traditional agriculture’ that I was defending, but clean, toxic free agriculture. The supermarkets in Canada might be a safe place to buy your clean food, but the toxic environment created by chemical agriculture ensures that the farmer is poisoned from multiple fronts. So lets stop defending the toxic chemical companies and look for ways of maintaining toxin free environments for farmers and consumers.

    • 1

      Ranil has sent me his post by e-mail as well. My reply to him is posted below.


      Ranil says:
      “The incidence of CKD, cancers and repertory diseases shot up after 1970. Co-incidence?”

      Give us the evidence that the Rajarata health problems started after 1970.

      The evidence we all have, and what the health department has, point to problems starting from about 1990. No increase in cancer is found. Only Kidney disease of unknown origin (CKDU) is higher than in other parts of the country.

      They did not shoot up around 1970, but around 1990, i.e., about 10 years after the opening up of free markets in 1977 by JRJayawardena who dismantled the agricultural extension service that existed in Sri lanka and controlled the distribution of fertilizer.

      From 1977 to 1990, about 13 years, is roughly the needed gestation period for epithelial cells in the kidney to get damaged from exposure to the high ionic content added to the water from estate runoff from the overuse of fertilizers. This water enters into the water table of the Rajarata, and this was also made possible by the Mahaweli scheme which also came into being, not in 1970, but at a time consistent with the first observation of CKDU in 1992 by Dr. Ramachandran.

      The New Mahaweli system is acting like a big drain for the run-off from the tea plantations, and especially vegetable cultivations upcountry.

      It has been found that since the release of fertilizer sales to the fee market, the amounts used by farmers in Sri Lanka have shot of 5 to even 10 times the optimal does. This is like taking 5 -10 tablets of vitamin A a day when you are required to take just one. the correct does is good. But five times the dose is poison, and does not help the crop, while it lines the pockets of the fertilizer sales people. So this is not the fault of the mineral fertilizer, but the fault of the politicians who dismantled the control system. So the “fiddleheads” blaming the “nozzleheads” will not solve the problem.

      The glyphosate decomposes into innocuous things long before it reaches the Rajarata; and the WHO study found no significant traces of glyphosate in the 250 or so samples of Rajarata water they examined.

      It is not the glyphosate, but the normal fertilizer and other mineral salts brought into the Rajarata water table that seep into the shallow ground wells of the residents, that cause the problem. At least, that is my view, and I found agreement with this view by two ex-Director Generals (Panabokke and Amarasiri) of agriculture and an ex director of the sugar research institute (Nande D). Our joint research paper (where more details are given) on this can be found at:

      [name of peer-reviewed journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health
      : Volume 37, Issue 2 (2015) ]
      Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown aetiology and ground-water ionicity:
      study based on Sri Lanka. by Dharmawardana et al. 2014 (preliminary version).

      Hope this is helpful


  • 0

    Hey Pasu. visit helasuwaya.

  • 2

    Cancer in Sri Lanka is steadily on the rise. The country’s cancer incidence rate has doubled since the eighties, according to the latest data (2006) compiled by the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP).It was steadily rising since the 70’s

    In your eagerness to promote Glyphosate you have not addressed the rest of the ‘Green Revolution’ package, especially the Cadmium load that began to enter the food chain. Pity !

    • 0

      Cancer and other age related diseases has been rising all over the world since the introduction of penicillin and modern hygiene, with the increase in life expectancy. But public health epidemiologists understand this very well.
      There is a well-known review article by Anaisimov in Critical Reviews of Oncology and Hematology. 2003 Mar;45(3):277-304.

      But let us consider the Rajarata data to limit the number of variables.
      The Rajarata is exceptional because it had Malaria
      till even the late 1960s (and even in 1970ies, there were cases).
      If you look at the health indicators for the Rajarata, the health has actually improved since 1970, with infant morality etc., dropping. The children, pregnant mothers and old people are the most vulnerably segments of society in regard to sensitivity to pesticides etc, and the data show that the health conditions have improved steadily until the late 1980s and into the 1990s.

      I would be thankful to you if you can present the cancer data for the Rajarata from 1970 onwards that you have used, perhaps in a separate article. I think there is NO supporting data for your statement. There are no sharp change in gradients in these indicators at 1970, while the Malaria drop (sharp change downwards) began earlier.

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