18 October, 2021

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Wither The Toxin-Free Nation

By Asoka Abeygunawardana

Asoka Abeygunawardana

Asoka Abeygunawardana

The “Toxin-Free Nation” is a serious and path-breaking policy decision of the government with wide repercussions for the country, its citizens and its economic and social development thinking. It is aimed at righting the entire agrarian sector which has hitherto been stood on its head by reductionist, poisonous, nation debilitating reductionist methods. It is important, nay, critical that a thoughtful and thought provoking national dialogue is initiated as to whether this move will guide us to global glory or if it will set us off on a road to doom. It is important to note that some media organizations have not only provide wide exposure to the topic but have also been highly critical of these efforts on the part of the government. However, it is clear by the various features that have appeared in some newspapers that most of the detractors seem not to have even read the strategy document despite it being freely and widely available in all three languages. Therefore, I believe that it is my duty as one of the formulators of this strategy to clarify the various issues that have come up.

A toxin-free world

In some articles, it has been articulated that this program has been formulated by a group of traditionalist, nationalist, island trapped frogs-in-the-well with no clue on what modern science says about the subject. The fact of the matter is that this strategy is rapidly being mainstreamed across the planet to ensure the sustainable continuity of the whole of human civilization. It is common knowledge that the industrial revolution 200 years ago completely changed the development direction of mankind as well as changed thinking on what is good and what is bad, what is growth and what is stunting of nations and peoples. The speed of change escalated rapidly, people started to believe that economic development and social environments were the only factors worth considering and that everything that had gone on before was not only dumb but retroactive to the future of the world. Wearing pink tinted spectacles, the world careened onwards towards… paradise? Of course not! Civilization went straight from heaven to hell and the planet when from self-sustenance to self-destruction and is currently teetering on the brink of complete annihilation. Who says this? Traditionalists? No! Scientists! Freeing the world of this mad drive to doom and setting ourselves on the path of righteous, equitable development of people and nations should have occurred about 5 decades ago. However, we became the victims of capital and multination corporations pawned mankind’s future for a brief burst of profit today. bees-beans-my-balcony-photo-by-uvindu-kurukulasuriya

This destructive paradigm has not resulted in irreversible damage to some sectors critical for the continuance of life. Two of these that have been subject to much discussion are the destruction of biodiversity and the advent of rapid climate change. Loss of biodiversity is directly bound to agriculture and climate change is equally firmly tied into the burning of fossil fuels. Even now, the planet has warmed up by an average of 1 degree Celsius. Mankind cannot now prevent it rising by a further degree.

The Rio summit of 1992 and the biodiversity convention and the climate change framework convention are seen as responses to these threats. 25 years later, in 2015, the COP 21 agreements aimed to neutralize the perennial tug-of-war between southern and northern states and embark on a collective thrust to sustainability on the part of all of mankind. We are therefore now in a transmission state from a destructive development paradigm to a sustainable one. The decision to reject fossil fuels and move en-masse to renewables has already been taken globally and this shift can no longer be stopped by the petrodollars of the fossil fuel mafia. Similarly, the shift from agrochemical based food production to organics has already occurred globally creating a massive demand for this type of produce worldwide. The thirst for organics can no longer be stopped by the agro-dollars of the fertilizer and pesticide mafia.

Reductionism vs holism

Science is not the gospel. As knowledge expands, so too, the conclusions and proofs of science. About a century ago, mainstream scientific thought revolved around reductionism within which the way mankind the principles of nature was by breaking a complex system down into component parts. Although modern agriculture was the result of investments and developments during world war II, these ideas were released to the planet via a reductionist agrarian paradigm centered on optimizing the profit of a given parcel of land. As a result of shifting away from multi-cropping to mono-cropping, all plants that were not directly considered profitable were classified as weeds. What was previously considered a tasting, nutrition food plants was now relegated to being “a weed”. The serried application of toxins to eradicate these plants was the hallmark of reductionism.

The scientific basis of holism is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Holism therefore rejects the idea of studying components to understand the whole as scientifically untenable but that the entire system has to be studied as a single unit in order to properly understand it. Reductionism maintains that changes in nature are linear but holism understands its fundamental cyclic nature. The basic principle of it is that nature exists in a dynamic state of stability. We must remember that we are living in 2010-2020 and not in the 50s. The scientific world rejected reductionism over five decades ago. Unfortunately, are so-called scientists are still regurgitating a rejected, outdated, outmoded development paradigm while laughably claiming that it is “modern” and sneering at the more recent scientific thinking.

The Ten Point plan

The reason why those who articulate their views on the toxin-free nation program are groping in the dark is clear. It is simply this: They have not taken either the time or the effort to read the ten point plan of the strategy, choosing to sound off on assumptions and thereby committed scientific perjury in the process. Picking up bits and pieces here and there and using those to sling mud is not going to benefit the country. Therefore, I earnestly urge the nay-sayers to read the plan in full before they sound off on the issues involved. It can be freely obtained in all three languages from www.sema.gov.lk. It is not a complete or comprehensive strategy plan but rather a foundation document. Therefore, it is possible to modify it based on constructive criticism.

It should be noted that the full import of that strategy cannot be completely outlined in a short piece like this. However, I consider it my responsibility to provide the reader with a brief on the sectors and thrusts that are covered therein. These include methods of providing crops with toxin-free fertilizer, organic pest control methods, irrigation aimed at optimizing natural agriculture and methods for designing future water supply projects, the manufacture and ready provision of new equipment for natural agriculture and post-harvest activities, storage and retail methods, loss minimizing transportation systems, land reform for toxin-free agriculture, acceleration of research into these agrarian systems, the protection of gene and intellectual rights related to organics and demand side awareness on optimizing cooking techniques and consumption patterns are all explained succinctly in this foundation plan.

The fertilizer subsidy

One of the main reasons for the weakening of organic agriculture in the country was the step-motherly treatment afforded to it that resulted in a decades long ostracism of the organic farmer and the vanguard of this marginalization was the fact that subsidies were only provided to those engaged in agrochemical farming. The organic farmer did not even have a farmers’ insurance. This was a totally unacceptable situation.

Against that backdrop, organic agricultural practice was limited to the growing of indigenous varieties which by nature yielded lower ratcheting up the price of this produce and creating an idea that toxin-full produce was for the poor and toxin-free produce was for the rich. Thus, although farmers engaged in organics obtained a higher price for their produce the consumer was afforded no possibility of purchasing these. One of the key decisions of the government was to eradicate this inequity and afford the subsidy to all farmers. This allowed the farmer to make a choice on which type of agro-inputs to go for. Neither is there any cause for fertilizer manufacturers to be alarmed. Contrary to the claims made by the henchmen and yay-sayers of the multinational corporates, no chemical fertilizer that adheres to the proper standards has been or will be banned.

Standing organic agriculture on its own feet

With the conversion of the fertilizer subsidy into a farmer subsidy, organic agriculture can now be expanded to improved varieties as well. The strapline of this initiative is “the same nutrition for the same price” means that the organic farmer can now produce the same yield at the same price and enables the consumer to pay similar prices for organics as then currently pay for non-organics. This in turn eliminates the fear that the country will be plunged into a food shortage.

The key to organics coming into their own is to ensure that they get the right type of nutrients in the right proportions. Agro-toxins have destroyed the soil as well as microbes vital for nutrient absorption by plants. Small commercial farmers cannot use tons of organic fertilizer so the government plans to use modern technology to improve the entire ecosystem as a whole through modern farming techniques to improve soil fertility, technology for the replenishment of microbes and the removal of barriers for the production of organic fertilizer. In lieu of bringing in a few foreign fertilizer manufacturers, the government plans to create more than 100,000 local entrepreneurs to provide these vital inputs.

Some so-called agronomists pontificate that agriculture is not possible without imported urea. However, any scientist who knows the nitrogen cycle of nature will never spread such fallacies in the name of science. The claim that atmospheric nitrogen can only be absorbed by plants mixed with heavy metals and fossil fuels is an earth shattering lie. Microbes that live with legume plants can do this extremely well. Modern science simply speeds up this process.

The Kidney disease disaster

Chronic kidney disease is driving farmers away from traditional farm lands and the suffering of families whose members have succumbed to the disease is a woeful national tragedy. Therefore a key responsibility of the government is eradicating all factors that are at the root of this. Multinationals, fronted by so-called scientists are currently conducting an aggressive campaign to spread the historic lie that there is no connection between agrochemicals and kidney disease when WHO reports have clearly stated that agrochemicals are one of its key contributors.

The myth of glyphosate 

Before the advent of this horror toxin, the farmer cleared the land for cultivation by a grass-cropper, weeder or tractor. Glyphosate has caused more damage to the soil than the earlier slash-and burn practice of farmers. Glyphosate is used before cultivation. Pests infest a parcel of land after cultivation. Therefore, glyphosate is not a pesticide. It causes the utter destruction of many animals and microbes that support farmed crops. Such is the destructive havoc caused by glyphosate that the ban on it is comparable to the ban on dynamiting fish.

It is the rice plant that finds it difficult to compete with weeds but it’s been proven that it can grow without glyphosate. If rice can be grown without it, then, tougher crops such as maize and tea should not have any problem at all. All that is required is a mindset change in farmers in soil preparation while protecting themselves.

A new value to agriculture

Agriculture in Sri Lanka has come to the brink of its own destruction with the chronic use of agro-toxins rapidly decreasing the contribution of this sector to the national economy. The family-economy of farming families collapsed completely. Female members of farming families were forced to go to the middle-east to provide unskilled labor and the children had to offer themselves to the temporary unskilled labor market of the construction industry in urban centers.

The toxin-free nation program offers a high impact path towards regenerating the agrarian sector. Further to achieving self-sufficiency in toxin-free foods, our farmers will be able to go to the lucrative global market for high quality organics with their produce and products under the brand “If it is Sri Lankan, it is toxin-free!”. The profit of these exercises is for immediate enjoyment of both farmers and consumers.

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    Here is another lost of bombast.
    The scientific basis of holism is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Holism therefore rejects the idea of studying components to understand the whole as scientifically untenable but that the entire system has to be studied as a single unit in order to properly understand it.

    Scientists never claim that the whole is equal to the sum of its parts. Scientists claim that >b>the whole is equal to its parts plus the interactions among them I have read this inseveral articles, including one on the so-called “Toxin Free” nation by a previous writer who is a scientists.

    Reductionism maintains that changes in nature are linear but holism understands its fundamental cyclic nature. The basic principle of it is that nature exists in a dynamic state of stability.

    Nonsense. Science does not assume any stability. Science does not assume any lnearity. Planets move in cycles. Everything depends on every other thing. Does science teach that the genetic code acts in some linear fashion? Where does this writer get such hogwash?

    The microbes and viruses are evolving from day to day. There is no stability. The Universe is expanding from a big bang. The second law of thermodynamics says that entropy inexorably increasing.

    So, where did this author get all this hog wash?

    Can the author give us a single law of nature discovered using what he calls holism?

    Can he use his holism to clean up the rotting garbage found in every corner of the city, and the humongous mound of garbage in Meethotamulle?
    Until you clean those and do the basic things, it is useless to talk of a “Toxin Free nation”.

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    Wither toxin free nation?
    It will go Nowhere. NO action, all talk, and big budgets with no results! But some will get rich

    May be the MPs and officials of the http://www.sema.gov.lk will get some free Cars (land cruisers and Pajeros? Those are not mentioned in the 10-point plan) and perks, trips abroad, etc. Their kith and kin, girl friends will get jobs. Venerable Ratana, who had sold his Land Cruiser for 33 million will get a duty free new Land cruiser because he is one of the main movers of the Toxin Free Nation!

    Can you imagine such crooks delivering the beef? (Being a Muslim I can’t say deliver the bacon! But “Venerable” Ratana can. Shouldn’t monks who are guilty of deceit on a mega-scale be hauled before the law instead of being in charge of a Toxin free nation?).

    These crooks will get contracts to import “organic fertilizer”, perhaps from the highly polluted lands of India and Bangladesh, as you can get it cheap there. Some people will make thumping profits. Meanwhile agriculture will suffer enormously. People will have all sorts of shortages.
    Then a new set of rules will come, and say that the Toxin Free types were utter crooks who have ruined the country’s agriculture, and increased the amount of toxin in the country by importing substandard organic fertilizers. They will now launch another CLEAN UP program, and a new set of crooks will run it. A new Abegunaratne will write a new article, blaming the previous henchmen.

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    Asoka Abeygunawardana

    RE: Wither The Toxin-Free Nation

    “he “Toxin-Free Nation” is a serious and path-breaking policy decision of the government with wide repercussions for the country, its citizens and its economic and social development thinking. It is aimed at righting the entire agrarian sector which has hitherto been stood on its head by reductionist, poisonous, nation debilitating reductionist methods.”

    Thanks. Yes, all those poisons ultimately accumulates in the humans. like DDT and Mercury.

    These are agricultural poisons.

    Threw is another prison, the Political poisons. It robs and kills the innocent citizens, and then the Politicians, like Gon Ganmarala, protects these crooks and killers, by interfering with those to try to clean up.

    Do you have an Anti-Poison Anti-Politician spray to clean the political poisons?

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      Mr Amarasiri:, let us develop a spray that can prevent the likes of Athureliya Ratana from infecting our society.

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    The rot started since the British Crown sold the watershed forests to “so called” British Planters following the recommendations of Colebrooke-Cameron Commission, the lands irrigated with waters flowing from hill country plantations were contaminated. Our forebears had been producing poisoned rice, cereals, vegetables and fruits on poisoned lands in the low country for nearly 200-years now. Our survival so far is indicative of developing immunity in our bodies naturally because before medication for renal failure was discovered by Western Pharma Giants, our local food and diets helped us to stay healthy.

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    Edwqrd, you have equated reductionism to science and with that, your entire argument falls flat on its face. Reductionism is completely unscientific. However, through the purchase of the scientific process and the hijacking of policy,reductionist methods have been legitimized. That they are legal does not mean they are scientific.

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    Bodin, you are wrong on many counts :) The Toxin-Free Nation program is running on almost no budget because a budget is not required for it. Your claim that Rev. Rathana is running this program is incorrect. He is not. It is run by the Presidential Secretariat. Over 2016, over 3000 people have been working on this exercise across the country for FREE. Most of them use public transport in every nook and corner of the country and in some, they simply walk because it is not possible to go to some locations in any other way. Please get your facts right before you start sounding like the politicians and crooks you condemn. Over the last ten years, I have not seen crookedness at SEMA and I am not speaking as a mere outsider looking in but as a person who has been active in their efforts on behalf of Sri Lanka ACROSS regimes. As a person who has never voted for anyone in the last 47 elections for which I am eligible, I speak on that matter with authority.

    You might like to tell us why you have this bee in your bonnet and your knickers in s twist. Any criticism that is backed up by strong science or evidence is probably going to be welcomed at SEMA. More than that, IF you can plant at least a weed in your own garden without the use of toxins, THAT would be more important to making this program a success than anything else because it is NOT, repeat NOT … an exercise that is based on officialdom but on people triggering themselves into action. SEMA is merely facilitating that process.

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      Let me make some comments on what Bodin, Edward, and the SEMA apologists have said.
      I agree with Bodin and Edward. I t is a relief to see that there are a few sane people left in Sri Lanka as yet.

      1. It was this writer Abegunawardene who equated science to Reductionism.
      He has no idea what reductionism is.
      Reductionism does NOT say that the sum of the parts is equal to the
      whole. In fact I refer to the article that was published here by a scientist,
      Prof. Dharmawardana, who pointed out that a whole is equal to the sum of its parts AND their interactions. There is NOTHING MORE. If there is, I challenge you to give even ONE an example for any system, (say water which is made up of hydrogen atoms, oxygen atoms, and their interactions).

      2. The few technical arguments in this paper are wrong. There are assertions but no supporting evidence. And these was stated and explained clearly in a reply article to this by the renowned agricutural scientist Parakrama Waidyanatha that appeared in the Island. Burt Abeygunaratne has REPEATED his article here without ANY corrections, or replies to Waidyanatha.

      3. In the article by Prof Dharmawardana in the Colombo Telegraph https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/whole-some-agriculture-for-a-toxin-free-nation/and in other articles by various scientists (Prof. Illeperuma, Prof. Rajapaksa, Prof Vijaya Kumar etc) they point out that the water analysis, and soil analysis, of most parts of the country have shown that there are no Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury and other heavy metal toxins, or pesticides residues, as confirmed by the WHO study, and by the Japanese study (Kawakami et al). The toxins that occur in the Rajarata water are due to naturally occurring fluorides, various salts that make the water strongly ionic etc. So, the plan is to provide people with clean water. There is nothing here to do with agrochemicals causing toxicity.

      We are dealing with politically motivated unscientific amateurs trying to wreak our agriculture, as was done in the soviet union by ideological communists who opposed modern genetics.

      So, Can Arjuna Seneviratne or Abeygunaratne NAME the toxins, and if they are ABOVE the danger levels (known as the maximum allowed levels, MALs) as listed by WHO?

      There are NO toxins arising from agrochemicals in this country, except for the OVERUSE of fertilizers by farmers and this has added to the phosphate load in our
      rivers and reservoirs. But this will be worse with organic agriculture.

      4. These articles also show that countries like NewZealand or Malasyia use 1000 times more fertilizers, herbicides than Sri Lanka, and they DON’T have chronic diseases. All the poor countir4es like El Slavadore, Bangladesh etc use very little agrochemicals and also have large amounts of diseases. The health standards ANTI-correlated with the use of modern scientific agriculture. If there is a correlation, then that does not prove causality but makes it a possible cause. But if there is an anti-correlation, then you can rule it our.

      5. Modern agriculture has become necessary because of the meteoric rise in population
      in this country, and world wide, due to human fecundity and human greed. If you are to feed these billions, you need methods that work, and not methods that DONT work, and failed to work, and were hence abandoned.

      6. The main pollutants in Sri lanka are diesel and Petrol fumes from vehicules, discarded urban garbage which is left completely untreated, adding Cd, Pb, Ni etc., from discarded electrical, plastic, paint and other refuse. The main pollutants are NOT agrochemicals.

      Agrochemicals used according to the instructions are excellent, safe, and have a track record of many decades. The glyphosate (Round up) that has been banned by the governmet due to the instigation of the NOT so venerable Ratana (Bodin has identified him as a crook. I agree), Nalin de Silva, Jayasumana and other nuts. Recently, some two dozen scientists, agriculturalists, Professors, and Medical doctors submitted a letter to the President arguing against the folly of this ban instigated by the misguided “Toxin-free” lobby.

      7. I challenge the SEMA or any other organization to provide analytical data to show that there are toxins in, say, the Rajarata (North Central Province) water or Soil where they claim that there is a kidney disease caused by these Toxins.

      Give the EVIDENCE FIRST, and then we can make the JUDGMENT. It is ONLY then that
      you should produce public policy and begin to approve or ban agrochemicals or
      organic agriculture which is a dangerous relapse into unknown materials containing
      unknown toxins.

      Otherwise this is ALL BOMBAST, as Edward had said.

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        Bodhi Dhanapala, thanks for your detailed response,

        I would have preferred that you did not have to use emphasis fonts (instead of sticking with one even formatting – either bold or normal) because it gives me an easy rebuttal of your first point and I dislike that…

        You see, what you say must stand its ground on its own because if what you say is accurate, emphasis should be in the thinking not in the force of the delivery of the thinking. The thinking should speak for itself not because you suffuse it with something intangible that enhances it. When you do that, you are attempting to inject into your primary argument something more than it already has, essentially meaning that you are attempting to create conditions where your argument is more than itself :) I hate to have to bring it up because it is so common, so old and so um… stale, but it is one of the classic arguments on how the total can become greater than the sum of its parts because the impact of what you say is modified by an infinity of chaotic nuancing ranging through anger, affirmation, rejection, frustration, irritation that has nothing to do with the argument itself but colors it greater than its own coloring.

        In that, the chaos principle is operative as outlined in this article, and the uncertainty principle presents itself and muddies linear, Cartesian thinking which is the point that is the foundation of differences between holistic and in this particular case, reductionist thinking.

        Let me take each of your points and discuss them:

        1. /*Prof. Dharmawardana, who pointed out that a whole is equal to the sum of its parts AND their interactions. There is NOTHING MORE. If there is, I challenge you to give even ONE an example for any system*/

        I point you Sir, to the 5th Solvay conference in 1927 and the Bhor-Einstein debate which questioned the very epistamology of physics which you use to validate your argument and which went to the heart of quantum non-locality and our understanding of the physical world. If you are either a physicist or mathematician I do not have to explain Bhor’s victory on over Einstein on the indeterminacy principle and other quantum phenomena and his rebuttal of the famous Einstein Podolsky, Rosen experiment in a four stage debate. For lay people, the famous factual anecdote is sufficient where Einstein, up against a wall in his argument based on cartesian linearity (which is essentially what the reductionists are using) bursts out in desperation ““Der Herrgott würfelt nicht” (God casts the die, not the dice) to which Bohr responds, “Albert, do not try to tell God what to do”.

        Further, I will urge you to explore the comparatively new field of Noetic sciences (early 1970s onwards)and the parallel work of such scientific thinkers as Thomas Khun, Fritjof Kapra, Edgar Mitchell et al. One of the great fallacies of linear cartesian thinking is that any system and its factors or incremental summation can be studied in parts and that when these parts are put together again the “whole of the whole” is apparent as the sum of its parts. Sure, if you take apart a car and study it piecemeal and put it back together it will come back up alive and each of the functions of each of the parts sum to the total of a machine in motion. However, if you take apart a dog, study it piecemeal and put it back together it won’t come back up alive. Something has been lost that cannot be captured by attempting to understand the functional components of a dog in that way. The fallacy of reductionism is similar and it has been so proved. You may check out this anecdotal article based on research for a more detailed explanation of the point I make.

        2. /* The few technical arguments in this paper are wrong. There are assertions but no supporting evidence*/

        Thank you Sir for citing the references. I offer you in rebuttal, this fact: The most popular herbicide (indeed the most widely used agrochemical in the world) glyphosate is a chelating agent. That is, it combines with heavy metals in certain types of soils such as those present in various parts of the rice growing areas of the country. The studies by Dr. Channa Jayasumana et al in Sri Lanka prove this. More importantly, the original patent holder, Stauffer Chemical Co. marketed it as a chelating agent or a bathroom cleaner before the patent was bought by Monsanto. Therefore, Monsanto knew about this property, its danger to human beings, its ability to contaminate water bodies and infiltrate the soil and suppressed it. Indeed, they claims that no harm could come from it at all. Therefore, any reference you make as to “safe use” is nullified because there was no mention by its manufacturers that “if glyphosate was used in unsafe ways, then, their kidneys would rot, their hearts would stop, their sugar levels will increase, their kids will suffer from asthma”. That was not said despite the fact that these types of NCDs could be tied to the use of those chemicals and manufacturers knew it.

        Additionally, contrary to your claims, studies by Jayatilake et al., Paranagama, Jayasumana locally, and by independent scientists in other countries including the USA have found cadmium, arsenic, mercury and radioactive nuclei in phosphate fertilizers. Glyphosate then becomes the carrier for these metals after combining with them due to its chelating property. The mechanics of the metal toxins infiltrating the human biological system is well documented and is basic chemistry. The contaminants in the commercially available phosphate fertilizers have already been identified as reason for this. The use of rhizopsphere microbes to break down natural phosphates will remove this. Therefore, your claim that organics will only add to the load is basically, not only a blatant untruth but unsupported by science.

        Additionally, studies by Chen, Krage et al. have found arsenic, cadmium and lead in cropland soils in California and tied it clearly to phosphate and micronutrient fertilizers.

        Additionally, you should also be aware then that US states such as Minnesota have also banned some of these mental contaminated phosphates for that reason. A recent study by Dr. Nancy Swanson et al., has directly linked glyphosate to the huge increase in NCDs and chronic disease in the USA.

        Further, please check the Pesticides Induced Diseases database for most of the claims made on the number of studies linking pesticides/agrotoxins to the diseases mentioned, the International Journal of Environmental Research and health for the links between Cardiovascular diseases and exposure to agrochemicals and the International Research Journal of Interdisciplinary & Multidisciplinary Studies (IRJIMS) on agrochemical use, environmental and health hazards. Finally, you can check the WHO report that claims that glyphosate is a possible carginogen. You can read this article to get the write up on those findings.

        I would also like to observe that the FAO had to fight hard with the pesticides regulators to force them to recommend half the dosage that was being used by farmers. The onus then is on those who regulate them on one side and on the supplier on the other. At no point past has the local proxies of agrochemicals either informed the regulators nor have the regulators informed the farmers on overuse. Indeed, they have used their grassroots proxies who actually sell the chemicals to the farmers to encourage excessive use.

        In fact, in places like the USA, where agrochemical companies blithely and falsely informed farmers and the FDA that the use of GE crops would reduce the use of agrochemicals, their use spiked 10 times after the introduction of those crops. I think it is quite clear here who is lying to whom and for what purpose.

        Should I therefore say that I am here dealing with an unscientific, possibly financially motivated quack who is acting as a mouthpiece for corporates and individuals who are attempting to continue to wreck our agriculture by leveraging power and money to use scientific tools to legitimize lies?

        3. /* The toxins that occur in the Rajarata water are due to naturally occurring fluorides, various salts that make the water strongly ionic etc. So, the plan is to provide people with clean water. There is nothing here to do with agrochemicals causing toxicity*/

        Already answered in (2). However, I would like you to qualify the word “most” in Dharmawardhane’s claim Sir. What is the incidence map from which he makes this claim and is “most” areas where there is no agrochemical usage?

        4. /* These articles also show that countries like NewZealand or Malasyia use 1000 times more fertilizers, herbicides than Sri Lanka, and they DON’T have chronic diseases*/

        Two rebuttals to your claim here. One, the agrochemical cocktail of phosphate fertilizers and pesticides are the reason for the metal toxins contaminating the human biological system and the studies mentioned above have already found the link so your claim is bereft of scientific weight. For it to carry weight, you should state the studies that have been done in similar circumstances and if you don’t have them, then you have to stand down on that claims. Two, in many areas of New Zealand, there is comparatively little or practical no human habitation unlike in Sri Lanka’s soils where the population density is much higher. Therefore, in order for your claim to be valid, you have to be able to provide the data on percentage increases in the incidence of NCDs. The study in the USA has already found the connection there. For New Zealand, well, the onus is on you to provide the study reports, the soil analysis, the water analysis, the HP indices and the incidence metrics based on that combination of factors.

        5. /* odern agriculture has become necessary because of the meteoric rise in population in this country, and world wide, due to human fecundity and human greed*/

        Your claim is fallacious. First, Yield Density (YD) is not the requirement to feed the millions in the world. Rather it is Nutrient Density (ND). The recipe of captured bio-resources, disenfranchised farming communities, GMOs) and planet destroying agrochemicals only helps to bloat the biomass of foods and nothing else. Increasing calories only leads to sickening people more and burdening the health system of a country. Eating that garbage is equivalent to eating a bunch of A4 sheets. The biggest growing industry these days is the health industry and enforced bad food consumption is a key reason for that. You can get the information via this write up on the issue. All that has happened with this yield mantra, is that people have ended up paying more for less so … sir? please don’t embarrass yourself by claiming things that are not true.

        Second, companies such as Mandanto, Dupont, Syngenta and others never fed the world. The majority of their profits come from non-food agricultural products such as bio-fuels. The people who actually feed the world are the small farmers. They are the ones whose resources are being captured and commandeered by agribusiness companies while sickening them and us in the process.

        6. /* The main pollutants in Sri lanka are diesel and Petrol fumes from vehicules, discarded urban garbage which is left completely untreated, adding Cd, Pb, Ni etc., from discarded electrical, plastic, paint and other refuse. The main pollutants are NOT agrochemicals */

        Again, on your claim, you had better provide the pollutant density and distribution maps. No affirmation or rejection of your claim is going to be possible without that. Since you make the claim, state the source. Once you have done that, the claim has to be qualified against the incidence of the specific alternative pollutants that you mention in the areas where NCD incidence is highest. Until that time it is a claim only.

        I will offer this as preemptive rebuttal: Bandara et al. have found more than 5 μg Cd/l (upper level safe for drinking water) in the upper catchment areas of the Mahaweli where the pollutants you mention and their sources are unavailable in the quantities that I surmise would be required to increase cadmium levels beyond safe limits.

        The world, sir, already knows who is nuts and who is not. Who is vicious and who is not. Who is a crook and who is not. The so-called evidence and open letters with no names (I was a recipient of it and I relegated it to the place most relevant to it – the trash bin) of those who are simply using their names to legitimize science are the real quacks. The fact that they are the spokespeople for out and out crooks only goes to amuse the people. They are tired, they are stale, they are useless. For each so-called scientific claim you make sir, there are a dozen that can and have rebutted it. Are you angry? Is your blood pressure rising? Is smoke coming out of your ears? Are you about to have an apoplectic fit? Your entire response indicates that and I am actually laughing at the claims you make.

        7. /* I challenge the SEMA or any other organization to provide analytical data to show that there are toxins in, say, the Rajarata (North Central Province) water or Soil where they claim that there is a kidney disease caused by these Toxins*/

        I challenge you to rebut the evidence I have provided with you sir. Remember this: With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world has taken the steps to bind the nations to non-invasive, environment sustaining, poverty alleviating ways of doing things. Goal 2 related to agriculture is quite clear about it. Article 2.4 states: by 2030 ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, and that progressively improve land and soil quality. Agrochemicals, as the evidence shows, have been violating that principle for years. Sri Lanka is no longer going to wait for the rest of the world to fall in line. We are already inline and we are going to be the benchmark, the role model for the rest of the world. This should terrify you. It should terrify the local agrochemical proxies, yay-sayers and henchmen. The anger in your response to Asoka’s article indicates that much. As we all know, people get most angry with people they are forced to lie to. Of course, the agrochemical companies can attempt consolidation, they can close ranks, they can spread misinformation but the truth is out regardless of the most earnest efforts of the agrochemical quacks masquerading as scientists to suppress it. You only have to look as far as PG&E in California and the identical tactics they used and how they would up with their noses rubbed in their own hexavalent chromium contaminated dust to know what the agrochemical companies are walking that same dusty road to doom.

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    Organic farming is done only by 1% of the entire wrold. Our population has to be fed and this is impossible without agrochemicals whether we like it or not. All this about organic farming is baloney and those who mislead the president into believing that we can do agriculture with organic farming are living in a fantasyland. Athuraliye Ratna who is at the forefront does not understand these facts. Glyphosate is classified as a class 2 carcinogen along with cooking oil, mobile phones etc and no country has banned this weedicide excpet our smart asses. Soon we have to import arsenic laden rice from Bangladesh to bridge the gap. SEMA and others are not saying how they plan to provide organic manure and we need at least five times the weight of synthetic fertilisers to get any reasonable yield. All these people are trying to make us starve and stop us been self sufficint in rice and this is probably a part of an international conspiracy.

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    I invite this writer to visit Chettikulam where the people in the new settlements have kidney disease (CKDu). Most of these people have been in refugee camps for more than 10 years and only after the war they have been settled by the government in the present areas. They have never used artificial fertiliser or pesticides in their agriculture and exclusively use cow dung as fertiliser. These people have skeletal fluorosis as well as CKDu and regularly attend the nephrology clinic at the Vauniya hospital. The only exposure to a toxin is the excessive fluoride in their drinking waters. Provision of purified drinking water with low fluoride reverses their health ill effects again proving that it is the fluoride and not agrochemcials that damages the kidney. The theory that agrochemicals cause kidney disease is all bunkum and people like Athuraliye Ratana thero and this writer are doing a lot of damage by pursuing such useless campaigns to ban agrochemcials.

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    Toxin-free nation? Is the author a toxicologist or an eco-toxicologist? Please do not write things for the sake of writing and waste everyone’s time!

    Who don’t you focus on something less audacious – like solving the traffic problem in Colombo? Or like fixing the waste disposal issues in the City of Colombo?

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      Darshi, if you are a toxicologist or Eco-toxicologist, please give your input. If not, what you just said is of no use either to yourself or to the readers. You are only wasting everyone’s time.

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      Bodhi Danapala: Let me correct you on one point.Nande Dharmawardena claims that he was the founding Director of the Sugar research Institute.Cod’s wallop.

      Sugar Research Institute was started by Late C,R,Karunaratne Chairman of the Sugar Corporation in or around 1968.It was a part of the Kantale establishment reporting to the Resident General Manager. It was situated at Kantale where I worked as the Distillery Manager.At one stage the Head was P.K.Jayatilake who researched on Sugar Cane Smut disease.

      The building where the original Research was stationed, was occupied, if not being occupied by the army.

      Prior to that under the GODB, there was a miniscular Research unit with a few specialities.

      With the change in the Govt in 1977, the Minister of Agriculture E.L.Senanayake established an independent institute and the First Director was an Australian Researcher.

      Both Jayatilake and the Australian researcher contributed positively to the growth of the Sugar cane Research Institute. Nande Dharmawardena can make no such claim other than to sign off in letters to the Editor of the Island news paper as the Founding Director.

      There are a few who are still alive, aware of the institute who will vouch for this fact.

      In a few years time, when the few alive have passed away, Nande can put up a BilBoard claiming himself to be the Founder.

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    Arjuna and people, instead doing field experiments to show that there are toxins in our soil and water, try to pass off with metaphysics and pull the wool over the eyes of the public with their mumbo-jumbo about holism, reductionism and Einstein,
    Chopra, Kuhn and others
    .

    2. I asked Arjuna Seneviratne to take the case of water, with two hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom, i.e., with three parts. So, if you take 10 water molecules in a container (that is the reduced system or “reduction”) we have 20 Hydrogen atoms, and one O atom, as well as their interactions. Now My question was, Give me EVEN a SINGLE property of water that cannot be predicted from the parts and their interactions, that you say can only be treated from what you call “Holism”.

    Instead of citing even a single property, Arjuna starts talking about the Solvey conferences, and other issues so that he can cover himself in a fog of metaphysics because he can confuse people with what Einstein or Bohr or Dirac said.
    All the stuff about Solvey conference is irrelevant bombast in this context.
    The prediction of properties of water requires Quantum Mechanics, the very stuff
    of the the Solvey conference, and EVERY property of water can be accurately predicted from the parts and interactions.

    [I took the example of water because this has been examine and discussed in the context of reductionism and holism already by several eminent scientists, like Thomas Huxley, Paul Dirac who was at the Solvey conference, Steven Weinberg, and more recently in detail in I think the 1st chapter of Prof. Dharmawardana’s book “A Physicist’s view of Matter and Mind”, where the first part of the book is about the philosophy of the quantum theory, while the second part is about the physics of consciousness. You can google it and many chapters are free to read. Also, Steven Weinberg, who won the Nobel Prize together with Abudus Salam has also explained this and you will see that you are in cukooland.)

    2. Please note that “Thomas Khun, Fritjof Kapra, Edgar Mitchell et al are not scientists but people who write ABOUT science from various ideological positions or to shock the reader and make some money. Kuhn discussed the structure of scientific revolutions. Chopra and people write bull-shit books equating science with ancient mysticism to get good sales (tell what people want to hear, then you can sell your books!). We are NOT interested in all that. We want to discuss the so called toxins found in Sri Lanka.

    Arjuna says:
    One of the great fallacies of linear cartesian thinking is that any system and its factors or incremental summation can be studied in parts and that when these parts are put together again the “whole of the whole” is apparent as the sum of its parts.
    {Descartes did NOT think Linearly, what ever that is. But that is irrelavent]
    So why should we discuss this fallacy? May be you committed that error?
    I didn’t, and scientists don’t. The “whole of the whole”, what ever that is, needs to include not only the sum of its parts, but also the INTERACTIONS among the parts and that is how science works.

    I asked you to name even ONE new thing that you say there is in the whole, or the “whole of the whole”, say, water, that we cannot predict if we treat it as two parts of hydrogen, one part of oxygen, and the INTERACTIONS among them.

    SAY WHAT Is IT.? Deliver the beef, as Bodin has said, instead just words.

    2. Arjuna says
    The most popular herbicide (indeed the most widely used agrochemical in the world) glyphosate is a chelating agent. That is, it combines with heavy metals in certain types of soils such as those present in various parts of the rice growing areas of the country. The studies by Dr. Channa Jayasumana et al in Sri Lanka prove this. More importantly, the original patent holder, Stauffer Chemical Co. marketed it as a chelating agent or a bathroom cleaner before the patent was bought by Monsanto. Therefore, Monsanto knew about this property, its danger to human beings, its ability to contaminate water bodies and infiltrate the soil and suppressed it.

    Not only Monsanto, every scientist and every lecturer in any agricultural knowledge or
    technical College (as my self) has known it since the 1970s. One of the articles I use when teaching my students on the chelating property is Smith, Paul H., and Raymond, Kenneth N., Inorg. Chem. 1988, 27, 1056-1061. READ IT.
    Jaysasumana et al proved nothing. They themselves call it an unproven hypothesis.

    We know that because of this chelating property, the metal toxins are chelated and immobilized, making them not bio-available, and hence NOT toxic. Toxic soils become GOOD when treated with glyphosate. For instance, if the soil is so toxic that no earthworms grow in it, on addition of glyphosate the toxicity is removed by chelating off the toxins, and earth worms begin to flourish, as many experiments prove. For instance, see a recent paper:
    Zhou C-F, Wang Y-J., Sun Cun, Fan G-P., Qin W-X.,Li C-C., Zhou D-M., Environmen-
    tal Toxicology and Chemistry, 2014, 33, 2351-2357

    So this is a VERY GOOD property of glyphosate. And yet Arjuna either tries to put the wool over people claiming it is a bad property, or he has not understood what chelating does to metal toxins in the soil!

    Don’t take your science from Jayasumana. Not one chemist, geologist, or physicist or agricultural scientist in Sri Lanka accepts their work unless they are acolytes of the utty Nalin de Silva. The official body representing scientists, namely, the National Academy of sciences has published a letter affirming the safety of glyphosate and denouncing the pseudoscience of Jayasumana, Gunatillke, and the third author Senanayake who claims to hear voices from God Natha saying there is arsenic in the Rajarata soil and water. But there is NO arsenic in the Rajarata soil or water even at 10 parts per billion.

    Jayasumana and others have not found even an IOTA of this HYPOTHETICAL arsenic containing chelate. The “hypothesis” was published in a bogus private journal owned by a chinese person living in Zurich who publishes anything if you pay the page charges. (at the time 1500 Euros). It is not sponsored by a learned society.

    Arjuna says
    Contrary to your claims, studies by Jayatilake et al., Paranagama, Jayasumana locally, and by independent scientists in other countries including the USA have found cadmium, arsenic, mercury and radioactive nuclei in phosphate fertilizers.

    Give your reference.
    I gave the references to rthe WHO report where 250 water samples were analysed.
    . Jayatilake N, Mendis S, Maheepala P, Mehta FR; CKDu National Research Project
    Team. BMC Nephrol., 2013, 14, 180.
    I mentioned th Japanese study: Kawakami T., Motoyama, A, Nagasawa, S, Weragoda, S and Chaminda, T 2014.
    Groundwater Quality Atlas of Sri Lanka. ISBN 978 955-0597-01-7

    ALL these, and many others, ALL independently agree that there are NO metal toxins
    to any significant degree in the Rajarata soil or water. Give me one peer-reviewed
    respected publication to prove your claim.

    Arjuna says

    Additionally, studies by Chen, Krage et al. have found arsenic, cadmium and lead in cropland soils in California and tied it clearly to phosphate and micronutrient fertilizers.

    So, you should direct your “toxin-free” effort in California. In Sri Lanka we DON’t have those metal toxins. You haven’t given a single reputable study (i.e., a study that has been repeated by an independent laboratory and verified).

    3. For this item you can read the paper by CDharmawardana, SLAmarasiri, NDharmawardaena, and CPanabokke.
    Both Amarasiri and Panabokke were Director Generals of Agriculture. CD was a professor chemistry and set up the first food science dept. in Sri lanka at SJP where I studied. ND was, I think founding director of Sugar Research. There paper is:
    Dharma-wardana M. W. C., Amarasiri S. L., Dharmawardene N., Panabokke C. R.,
    Environmental Geochemistry and Health: 2015 37, 221

    5. Arjuna says, Your claim is fallacious. First, Yield Density (YD) is not the requirement to feed the millions in the world. Rather it is Nutrient Density (ND).

    It is in fact the nutrient density we are interested in. The nutrient density produced for the same input of human labour, water, energy, and land area to an “organic” paddy plot and a paddy plot grown using scientific agriculture is what we are talking about. The labour, water, energy, land etc can all be costed to give a dollar figure. The organic one is more polluting to the environment, has more toxins (from the compost from plants that have bio-concentrated toxins from the soil) and the dollar per dollar cost is two to 5 times more for the organic produce. It also needs more land, and more water, and takes longer to mature. There are field trials from Batalagoda and from the Dpt. of Agriculture, Peradeniya to prove it. Go and talk with Dr. Bentota and others and find out.

    6.Arjuna says:
    I will offer this as preemptive rebuttal: Bandara et al. have found more than 5 μg Cd/l (upper level safe for drinking water) in the upper catchment areas of the Mahaweli where the pollutants you mention and their sources are unavailabe

    The paper by Bandara et al on this is the now outdated, several times rebutted paper:
    Bandara JM, Wijewardena HV, Liyanege J, Upul MA, Bandara JM. Chronic renal
    failure in Sri Lanka caused by elevated dietary cadmium: Trojan horse of the green
    revolution. Toxicol Lett. 2010;198:33-9. and an earlier one in 2008.

    This 2010 paper or their earlier 2008 paper was rebutted by Prof. Chandrajith et al of the Geology Dept., Peradeniya who did independent chemical analysis, and Bandara et al, as far as I know have accepted the critique and have not challenged it. As I mentioned, the Kawakami atlas, and the Nanayakkaara study, and the Chandrajith study have all confirmed that the Bandara work is no longer acceptable.

    Nanayakkara S, Komiya T, Ratnatunga N, Senevirathna ST, Harada KH, Hitomi TGobe G, Muso E, Abeysekera T, Koizumi A. Environ Health Prev Med. 2012;17:213-21.

    7. Arjuna is asking me to rebut the evidence he has presented for the existence of toxins. The only reference he gave is to the outdated and multiply rebutted work of Bandara et al. I have given enough references to subsequent papers that rebut everything he says.

    Claim of making Sri lanka Toxin free ASSUMES that Lanka is full of toxins. Please desist from Fear mongering. If someone is adding toxins then there are proper channels to sue them and stop the additon of toxins. Go ahead and sue them and then you need to PROVE the existence of toxins in a court of law with EVIDENCE, instead of calling god Natha and Jayasumana in your defense!

    Also, “Toxin-Free” is pushed by Champacha Ranawaka who worked hard to set up Coal-powered generator stations in Lanka. Then he can cover up all that by directing attention to Monsanto.

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      Bodhi Danapala: Let me correct you on one point.Nande Dharmawardena claims that he was the founding Director of the Sugar research Institute.Cod’s wallop.

      Sugar Research Institute was started by Late C,R,Karunaratne Chairman of the Sugar Corporation in or around 1968.It was a part of the Kantale establishment reporting to the Resident General Manager. It was situated at Kantale where I worked as the Distillery Manager.At one stage the Head was P.K.Jayatilake who researched on Sugar Cane Smut disease.

      The building where the original Research was stationed, was occupied, if not being occupied by the army.

      Prior to that under the GODB, there was a miniscular Research unit with a few specialities.

      With the change in the Govt in 1977, the Minister of Agriculture E.L.Senanayake established an independent institute and the First Director was an Australian Researcher.

      Both Jayatilake and the Australian researcher contributed positively to the growth of the Sugar cane Research Institute. Nande Dharmawardena can make no such claim other than to sign off in letters to the Editor of the Island news paper as the Founding Director.

      There are a few who are still alive, aware of the institute who will vouch for this fact.

      In a few years time, when the few alive have passed away, Nande can put up a BilBoard claiming himself to be the Founder.

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    Mr. Arjuna Seneviratne can send me his e-mail and then may
    be I can help him with his linear thinking or Cartisian or nonCartisian thinking!
    We need to think CORRECTLY, irrespective of the linearity or the non-linearity.
    My email is bodhi_dhana@yahoo.com

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    Our ancestors lived in a toxic free nation. They had low IQ, however, and since then the agro toxins have increased our national IQ

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      Our ancestors lived in a nation with a lot of toxins. They burned down tress
      to make Chenas. After the chena becomes sterile, they would burn an adjacent forest and replant there. These mature trees had a lot of metal toxins accumulated in them during growth.

      Their life expectations were very low. Chicken pox, malaria, hooping cough, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, ring worm, roundworm, hookworm, beri beri, arthritis. That they had cancer, renal disfunction, hypertension, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, growth inhibition, hemorrhagic lesions in sensory ganglia can be inferred from the accounts in the Veda-Poth in sanskrit and sinhala.
      May of these diseases have now been wiped out, thanks to scitific medicine and nutrition.
      What remains are aging diseases or diseases of the well-fed, like hypertension, atherosclerosis, dementia, cancer, and diabetes.

      Families were large. A lot children died yound. Only a few hardy people survived to adult age. They had acquired the immunity by the hard way, and many of them lived to 70 or 80 years. But if you take the full average, including those who dies yound, life expectancy was around 35.

      The TOTAL population of Sri lanka in the 1700s was less than that of central Colombo today. Historians have estimated that at its best days, the maximum population may have been about 5 lakhs in the WHOLE of Sri Lanka.

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