Organic farm advocates want glyphosate products withdrawn

AN organic farming advocacy network called for the withdrawal of glyphosate products from agricultural stores in Davao City, citing World Health Organization (WHO) findings that the weed killer is carcinogenic.

"The World Health Organization's assessment of the health risks of using glyphosate as a herbicide validates what health advocates and organic farming practitioners have long been saying: this chemical is a danger to both health and environment," Go Organic Davao City (GODC) member and Idis executive director Ann Fuertes said in a statement to Sun.Star Davao.

Fuentes said WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) created a Working Group of 17 experts from 11 countries that assessed the carcinogenicity of five insecticides, including glyphosate.

In its report released last March 20, the working group classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans".

"This is very alarming, particularly since glyphosate is the most commonly used herbicide in the Philippines," Fuentes said.

Glyphosate is sold locally under some of the following names: Monsanto Roundup, Sting, Rodeo, Muster, Tumbleweed, Spasor, Sonic, Glifonox, Glialka, Glycel, Rondo and Wipeout.

The Philippine Fertilizers and Pesticide Authority (FPA) lists some 70 glyphosate products in its registration inventory, most of which carry the Monsanto brand.

Fuentes said the regional environmental group Third World Network noted that the agricultural use of glyphosate has risen sharply since the introduction of crops which have been genetically modified to make them resistant to glyphosate.”

TWN said that glyphosate, which is also used in forestry, urban and home applications, “has been detected in the air during spraying, in water, and in food."

Brazil, El Salvador and Sri Lanka are already considering banning the chemical, citing the danger it poses to agricultural lands, TWN said.

"In Mindanao, the use of glyphosate is linked to the production of RR corn. Corn farmers use glyphosate in conjunction with the planting of Monsanto's Round up Ready corn which has been genetically modified to withstand the herbicide," Fuentes said.

She said there is currently no available data on RR corn production and glyphosate use in Davao City, but reiterated the need for local government agencies to take a proactive stance on this issue to protect the health of farmers and the watersheds.

"Farmers need to be aware of the dangers of using this herbicide. The Fertilizers and Pesticide Authority (FPA) should cancel the registration of this pesticide and manufacturers should recall the stocks that have already been distributed to their outlets. Similarly, we urge distributors to stop selling herbicides which use glyphosate as an active ingredient," she said.

"The City Agriculturist's Office should also step up the implementation of its organic agriculture program so that farmers will have an alternative. Organic corn is a high-value crop; farmers stand to gain more if they shift to organic corn production," she added. ANC with PR


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