Weed-induced brain damage is permanent

Pesticide from agricultural company Monsanto : Danger glyphosate: cancer from weed killer "Roundup"?

Experts argue about a health hazard from glyphosate. Hardware stores take it from the offer. Habeck sees a need for action.

by kim
September 14, 2015, 10:37 am

It sprouts between the pavement slabs, spreads rapidly in the harvested vegetable patch and spoils the rock garden - if you want to fight the weeds in the garden, you should take action in autumn. If you take action against the wild growth now, you can save yourself some work in the spring. Because conventional weed control is a tiresome business, even hobby gardeners make their work easy and resort to the chemical club. Best-selling: the Glyphosate Roundup. But since professional agriculture fell into disrepute because of the use of Roundup, garden owners too have had to ask themselves whether they can really still answer for the use of this suspected cancer agent. The information and protest campaigns of the nature conservation associations have now had an effect: Large hardware stores in Schleswig-Holstein such as Toom (Rewe Group) or Bauhaus are taking the product off their shelves these weeks.

For years the problem has been played down. With brisk advertising slogans, the American agricultural company Monsanto tried not only to ensnare the farmers, but also to encourage gardening enthusiasts to leave the hoe in the tool shed and use the pesticide. It is sold in handy spray bottles, recently even sold by discounters.

The IARC, a sub-organization of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified the herbicide glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” in March. On the other hand, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) found no such indications in a 2014 study. Monsanto also emphasizes: "Long-term toxicological studies on rats and mice have shown that even long-term administration of glyphosate does not increase the risk of cancer."

But that no longer reassures the politicians. “Pesticides such as glyphosate end up in rivers, lakes and streams through intensive use. The data for Schleswig-Holstein indicate a considerable ecotoxicological impairment of the aquatic biology, ”warns Kiel's Green Environment Minister Robert Habeck. In the groundwater - the main source of drinking water - residues of the pesticides and their degradation products can be found to a relevant extent. “So there is a need for action,” says the minister.

It goes without saying that this appeal applies not only to the farmers, but also to the garden owners, for Bernd Biggemann from the BUND district group in Pinneberg. "There are numerous indications of diseases caused by glyphosate: malformations, brain damage and heart defects in newborns, cancer, leukemia, skin diseases, ulcers, allergies, hair loss, respiratory diseases, Parkinson's and others".

In Argentina, a study has shown that in the vicinity of soy fields sprayed with glyphosate, cancer and leukemia cases in children under 15 have tripled and deformities in newborns even quadrupled. "But the approval authorities, the German BfR and the European Food Safety Authority EFSA do not recognize such facts as evidence of the harmfulness of the pesticide," regrets Biggemann. This turns the precautionary principle on its head: "Instead of banning an active ingredient as long as it has not been proven beyond doubt that it is harmless, it will or will remain approved as long as the authorities believe that it has not been proven beyond doubt that it is dangerous".

However, the behavior of the authorities is not surprising: “Of the twelve members of the BfR Commission for Plant Protection Products, two are from BASF and one from Bayer CropScience. And of the 18-person working group that EFSA set up to reassess the effects of glyphosate, eight have industry links ”. He is not alone with the assumption. About 5,000 doctors have joined forces in a signature list. "To protect citizens from unnecessary cancer, glyphosate must be banned," says the initiator, an internist from Aachen. The IARC enjoys the highest recognition, the warning must be taken seriously. The BfR, on the other hand, relies on studies by manufacturing companies.

A few weeks ago, the news that glyphosate was found in breast milk came as a shock to many. The BfR says that the measured values ​​are far below the questionable range.

As long as the expert dispute has not been resolved, there is no alternative for environmentalist Biggemann to appeal: "Leave the poison on the shelves, in your own interest and in the interest of nature and the environment".