Wednesday, 3 October 2012

MOP/COP11: Glyphosate, a chemical that kills weeds, has emerged as a major villain at the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 2: Glyphosate, a chemical that kills weeds, has emerged
as a major villain at the ongoing Conference of Parties (CoP-11) to
the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity here.

Rights groups and independent research organisations have come up with
publications that highlight the untold damage glyphosate causes to
man, animals, plants and environment. Glyphosate is used in herbicides
(which kills weeds).

To protect commercial and food crops from glyphosate damage,
multinational companies have introduced transgenes into them to make
them herbicide tolerant. As GM crops became herbicide tolerant, more
glyphosate is sprayed to kill the weeds. This is leading to residue
build up, causing damage to human health and environment.

According to Dr Jack A Heinemann, professor genetics and molecular
biology, New Zealand, the residues of glyphosate are found on 80 per
cent of edible genetically modified organisms.

“It has been found to be highly toxic to human cells, at levels far
below agricultural dilutions. This was found to occur on hepatic,
embryonic and placental cell lines, and on human placental extracts,
primary umbilical cord cells and freshly isolated testicular cells.
Glyphosate formulations induce apoptosis and necrosis in human
umbilical, embryonic and placental cells,” he said.

Another chemical that is widely debated is methyl bromide, which
causes damage to ozone. It is still used as a pesticide in many
countries.

Dr Heinemann points out that the potential loss of another technology
(in this case glyphosate) appears to be but one more example of how
genetic engineering designed by large corporations for their profit is
appropriating a valuable resource from those with the least ability to
pay.

Glyphosate is primarily used as a burndown agent with conventional
crops. It is usually applied early in the season before planting or
after harvest to purge weeds, or between rows in perennial crops, and
it is used outside of agriculture, he said.

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