Posts Tagged ‘Public Health’
Campaigns to ban and phase out the chemical across the world intensify with major successes
Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji The Institute of Science in Society June 10, 2015
Could it be that the World Health Organisation’s classification of glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen’ (see  Glyphosate ‘Probably Carcinogenic to Humans’ Latest WHO Assessment, SiS 66) will be the final nail in the coffin for the world’s most popular herbicide and Monsanto’s flagship product.
Recent weeks have seen the intensification of campaigns to ban or remove the product as well as lawsuits being filed against Monsanto; in the US for false safety claims of glyphosate, and in China, for hiding toxicity studies from the public. (El Salvador has already banned the chemical though yet to be signed into law , while the Netherlands last year banned private sales . Sri Lanka had a partial ban in place in regions most afflicted by chronic kidney disease that has been linked to glyphosate use (see later)).
People have known the truth for years. Industry and government regulators have conspired to bury copious evidence of toxicity for decades, and they feel to some extent vindicated by the latest WHO assessment (see  Glyphosate and Cancer, SiS 62) and  EU Regulators and Monsanto Exposed for Hiding Glyphosate Toxicity, SiS 51). More importantly, governments are finally beginning to take action.
Colombia has taken the lead, deciding to suspend aerial spraying of illegal coca as well as poppy plants, which is expected to come into effect in a few weeks’ time following a majority 7 to 1 vote for the ban by the National Narcotics Council . The day before the ban, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defence (AIDA) delivered 24 000 signatures to the Minister of Justice who also chairs the Narcotics Council to push for this decision .
Colombia had been employing US contractors to spray glyphosate for two decades, covering an estimated 1.6 million hectares of land. This spraying for the “war on drugs” has been ineffective in eradicating illegal cocaine production, but has instead caused rising illness in local communities, killing local crops and polluting land and water supplies. Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities have borne the brunt of the fumigation programs, prompting protests against both coca production and glyphosate use that has been displacing people from ancestral lands . Colombia is not alone.
Bermuda, the British overseas territory in the Atlantic also banned glyphosate imports with immediate effect following the WHO assessment, as announced by their Minister of Health, Jeanne Atherden, whose decision was supported by local farmers . The Minister said she believes the “action we are taking today is prudent and in the best interests of a safe environment….Like any area of science, there are competing studies and a wealth of information on both sides of the argument…. I am satisfied that this action is warranted and we are committed to conducting an open and thorough investigation” .
Sri Lanka is the latest country to declare an outright ban. The decision follows the election of the new president, a farmer and previously the Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena taking the decision due the epidemic of chronic kidney disease .The spread of kidney disease highlights the wide-ranging toxicity of glyphosate not limited to carcinogenicity. The country’s battle to ban the chemical precedes the WHO declaration, coming after studies by Sri Lankan researchers linked the chemical to hard water, heavy metal contaminants and glyphosate use (see  Sri Lanka Partially Bans Glyphosate for Deadly Kidney Disease Epidemic, SiS 62). This prompted an initial ban, which was later restricted to certain regions of the country following intense lobbying pressure. With the government paying for healthcare of over 25 000 residents and supplying them with fresh water, the latest decision for an outright ban could not come soon enough.
Imminent bans, protests, and fresh calls for bans
Brazil is facing growing pressure to follow suit, with the country’s public state prosecutor writing to Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) asking it to urgently re-evaluate their stance on glyphosate and also revoke authorisations on glyphosate-tolerant GM crops . He has even gone as far as launching an investigation into whether regulatory authorisations are legal for the GM crops. ANVISA are stalling their decision however, until the full report by the WHO is published.
In Argentina, 30 000 health professionals belonging to the union of doctors and health professionals (FESPROSA) have come out in support of the WHO decision , claiming that glyphosate “not only causes cancer. It is also associated with increased spontaneous abortions, birth defects, skin diseases, and respiratory and neurological disease.” The statement continues: “Health authorities, including the National Ministry of Health and the political powers, can no longer look away. Agribusiness cannot keep growing at the expense of the health of the Argentine people. The 30,000 health professionals in Argentina in the FESPROSA ask that glyphosate is now prohibited in our country and that a debate on the necessary restructuring of agribusiness is opened, focusing on the application of technologies that do not endanger human life.”
Similarly, the Society of Paediatric Haematology-Oncology (SAHOP) issued a statement calling for an immediate ban of glyphosate fumigation, signed by the President of the Paediatric society Pedro Zubizarreta. They objected to the massive use of toxic products being sprayed in ever increasing concentrations in combinations of both insecticides and herbicides, and being sold as ‘technological advancements’. They also warned of storing the grains in plastic bags, which leaves grains teeming with aflatoxins, categorised by the WHO’s IARC as a known carcinogen since 1993 . Glyphosate has already been previously linked to the growth of these fungi in scientific studies, along with many other crop diseases .
Successful protests in Argentina were also recently mobilised to prevent Dr Medardo Ávila Vázquez from losing his job after the agribusiness-funded university threatened to sanction him for conducting and disseminating studies showing the high levels of cancers affecting his region as a result of agrichemical spraying . These protests are a tribute to his work in exposing the toxicity of glyphosate, as well as the groundswell of opposition to glyphosate spraying in the country despite support by the national government. Local residents are gaining strength to voice their concerns following the WHO news as well as the recent decision by the Ministry of Production in the province of Santa Fe to ban aerial spraying of 2,4-D within 6 km of residents, confirming the health risks of the chemical agricultural system that leaves children covered in chemical and dust particles as they walk to school .
In Europe, the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE) (an influential body with member organizations in 27 countries) has written to officials at the EU parliament and Commission asking for an immediate ban of glyphosate herbicides and for insecticides also judged by the WHO to be carcinogens, without exceptions . A member of the EU commission stated in the 2015 GMO-free conference 2015 in Berlin, Germany that they will include the WHO assessment in their re-evaluation procedures that is due to be completed later this year. However the corrupt process of reassessment that was led by a consortium of chemical companies (see  Scandal of Glyphosate Re-assessment in Europe, SiS 63) means that EU campaigners will have to push hard to force the EU to have some semblance of integrity in their final decision making.
Written by laudyms
June 11, 2015 at 7:27 am
Posted By NATHAN TAYLOR, THE PACKET AND TIMES
March 22, 2010
Federal guidelines for the use of wireless technology are outdated and should be more in line with emerging research, experts say.
And some Simcoe County parents, who say their kids have experienced adverse health effects as a result of wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) in their schools, agree.
Rodney Palmer, who has two children, four and nine years old, at Mountain View Elementary School in Collingwood, recently made a presentation to the Simcoe County District School Board.
He informed the board that some students were experiencing headaches, dizziness, distorted vision and other symptoms that otherwise weren’t usually a problem with the children.
Palmer’s four-year-old daughter would get a rash on her leg — something that would happen only at school, he said.
“It’s really the long-term effects that I’m worried about. Introducing a four-year-old to microwave radiation for six hours a day when it’s not being used is profoundly unnecessary,” he said, noting the majority of the school’s eight transmitters were left on when they were not needed.
The long-term effects are what worry researchers, too.
FDA Shifts Position on BPA but Says Its Hands are Tied
In its long-awaited decision on the dangers of bisphenol-A (BPA) exposure, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it believes there is some concern about the effects of BPA on children. This is a shift from the agency’s recent position that BPA is safe. The agency says its ability to regulate the chemical, however, is limited by FDA’s outdated regulatory authority.
Lead Standards for Children’s Products Challenge CPSC
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is struggling to interpret and enforce standards intended to limit children’s exposure to lead, the agency’s commissioners reported to Congress Jan. 15.
Untested, unsafe chemicals are so common in our everyday products that even a small inroad into corporate secrecy seems like a big deal:
Bite Taken Out of Chemical Secrecy
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Jan. 21 a new practice that will prevent chemical manufacturers from hiding the identities of chemicals that have been found to pose a significant risk to environmental or public health. The policy is a small step to increase the transparency of the nation’s chemical laws, and it highlights both the problem of excessive secrecy and the power of the executive branch to make government more open — even without action by Congress or the courts.
According to a Harper’s article, Why Poisonous, Unregulated Chemicals End Up in Our Blood, By Mark Schapiro:
“In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention completed screening for the presence of 148 toxic chemicals in the blood of a broad cross section of Americans; it found that the vast majority of subjects harbored almost all the toxins. In the same year, the CDC’s National Survey on Family Growth concluded that rates of infertility were rising for women under the age of twenty-five, a spike many scientists attribute, at least in part, to routine exposure to toxic chemicals.”
Drugmakers’ victories in Washington could keep health costs high, trade office warns
The pharmaceutical industry spent $110 million in just the first half of 2009 in its efforts to influence health care reform, part of a booming lobbying effort that now has 2.3 drug lobbyists on Capitol Hill for every member of Congress, a new investigative report reveals.
A potentially deadly new strain of anti-biotic-resistant microbes may be widespread in our food supply. MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a form of staph bacteria that resists antibiotics (including methicillin), making it hard to treat, even lethal. Industrial agriculture is now a potent source of these infections.
” Are You At Risk?
You’ve probably heard of people contracting certain strains of MRSA in hospitals, where it causes many illnesses: postsurgical infections, pneumonia, bacteremia, and more. Others encounter different types of the bug in community centers such as gyms, where skin contact occurs and items like sports equipment are shared; this form causes skin infections that may become systemic and turn lethal.
Then in 2008, a new source and strain of MRSA emerged in the United States. Researcher Tara Smith, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa, studied two large Midwestern hog farms and found the strain, ST398, in 45% of farmers and 49% of pigs. The startling discovery– and the close connection between animal health and our own that it implied–caused widespread publicity and much official hand-wringing. To date, though, the government has yet to put a comprehensive MRSA inspection process in place, let alone fix our problematic meat-production system.
You may not have the same close contact with meat that a processing plant worker has, but scientists warn there is reason for concern: Most of us handle meat daily, as we bread chicken cutlets, trim fat from pork, or form chopped beef into burgers. Cooking does kill the microbe, but MRSA thrives on skin, so you can contract it by touching infected raw meat when you have a cut on your hand, explains Stuart Levy, MD, a Tufts University professor of microbiology and medicine. MRSA also flourishes in nasal passages, so touching your nose after touching meat gives the bug another way into your body, adds Smith.”
H.R. 1549, the Preservation of Antibiotics For Medical Treatment Act of 2009 now under consideration by the House, would limit the amount of antibiotics that can be used on factory animal farms. “The farm lobby’s opposition makes its passage unlikely,” The New York Times reported Monday.
Industrial agriculture has adopted many practices that put public health at risk. Factory farms routinely feed animals antibiotics to off-set crowding and bad sanitation.