Indo-Canadian Food Safety Campaigner Tony Mitra

New Delhi, April 19th 2018: An Indo-Canadian food safety campaigner, currently visiting India, cautioned that Indians are under great danger from the ill effects of Glyphosate, which is the world’s most widely used herbicide. Tony Mitra, author of “Poison Foods of North America” (2017) pointed out that in India too, Glyphosate is fast becoming one of the most widely used herbicides[1], with the regulators ignoring the perils of this chemical on health and environment.

Tests conducted by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in 2017 on food samples sourced from India showed high levels of Glyphosate (a broad spectrum weedicide & crop desiccant) residues especially in pulses. Yellow peas sourced from India showed residues at 683 ppb while Red Lentils had 295 ppb of Glyphosate residues. Samples of Bengal gram (Chickpea) flour also showed high Glyphosate presence of 467 to 475 ppb. Meanwhile, there is scientific evidence to show that glyphosate formulations, including due to the so-called ‘inert ingredients’ could be potentially harmful at much lower levels of exposure.

“As per a draft notification of FSSAI in December 2017, MRLs of glyphosate allowed in India are however, the following: 1 mg/kg in Tea, 0.01 mg/kg in Rice and 0.05 mg/kg in Meat/meat products. In fact, the 2011 regulations have MRL of Glyphosate fixed for only Tea (the only approved crop on which glyphosate can be used as per CIBRC), which is at 1 mg/kg. This clearly shows that Glyphosate is not only being put to unapproved uses in India, but also ending up as extremely high residues in important food crops. Meanwhile, a Manual of Methods of Analysis of Foods for Pesticide Residues by Food Safety Authority (FSSAI)[2] does not even have Glyphosate listed”, said Tony Mitra.

He pointed out that a further danger to Indians of glyphosate toxin comes from contaminated food being imported from other countries. After the advent of glyphosate-tolerant GM crops, MRLs have been revised manifold higher to provide for the higher usage of the toxin on the crop, he said. “93% of Yellow Peas (Matar) & 75% of Red Lentils (Masur) from Canada had Glyphosate residues of 199 and 485 ppb. Green gram (Mung) from Australia had a sky high Glyphosate residue of 1500 ppb. India is one of the largest importers of pulses principally from Canada, Australia and Myanmar. About half of all yellow peas and red lentils consumed in India originate from Canada”, he shared, based on information he obtained of all the results of broad based testing of thousands of food samples for glyphosate that the was able to get Canadian Government to take up. These results have been published in his 2017 book, Poison Foods of North America. “This made Canada perhaps the only country in the world to have conducted tests of food items produced in 68 countries for Glyphosate”, he shared.

Glyphosate is the most-used agrochemical globally with 9.4 million MT already sprayed. After the introduction of Genetically Modified (GM) Roundup Ready crops in 1996, which were engineered to tolerate Roundup herbicide, the use of Glyphosate increased manifold. In India, it appears that it is being used as a pre-harvest desiccant in several crops resulting in high residues in food. This is of course illegal and the pesticide regulators as well as food safety regulators have to address this urgently. The spread of illegal HT cotton has also increased the use of glyphosate in the country.

After decades of denial of any safety concerns with glyphosate by numerous agencies all over the world, it was only in 2015 that the World Health Organisation’s IARC classified Glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen.

Meanwhile, there is scientific evidence that points to the dangers of Glyphosate, both to human health and to the environment[3]. Argentine scientists found that Glyphosate causes birth defects in frogs and chickens. Doctors at Paraguay & Argentina report on the serious ill-effects like infertility, stillbirths, miscarriage and cancer in GM Soy producing areas. A 2010 study involving Indian scientists has findings that suggest glyphosate induced carcinogenicity[4].

“The most significant problem with Glyphosate is its ability to mimic (analogue) Glycine (an essential amino acid) present in most proteins. Replacement of Glycine in protein chains results in rogue proteins which is the main reason behind the increase in diseases”, explained Tony Mitra.

Glyphosate is banned in Sri Lanka while El Salvador and Bermuda have restricted imports. Colombia has announced stopping usage of Glyphosate. The Chinese Army has reportedly banned all GM foods due to Glyphosate residues. The high level of Glyphosate residues in both Indian and Canadian pulses is a matter of serious health risk to a billion plus nation, as dal is ubiquitous in our diet.

In India, only the state of Andhra Pradesh has issued orders that restrict the use of Glyphosate. The Central Government has been ignoring civil society pressure to ban glyphosate.

 

[1] http://ppqs.gov.in/statistical-database/pesticidewise-consumption-indigenous-pesticides-during-2010-11-2015-16 and http://ppqs.gov.in/statistical-database/pesticidewise-consumption-imported-pesticides-during-2010-11-2015-16

[2] http://ppqs.gov.in/statistical-database/pesticidewise-consumption-imported-pesticides-during-2010-11-2015-16

[3] http://www.pan-germany.org/download/Glyphosate-monograph_PAN_2016.pdf

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20045496

FOR MORE INFORMATIONTONY MITRA PHONE: 09831713068

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