I knew there was a problem – I could see it. I could also see the probable cause, but the link between them had eluded me for quite a few days. Now I think I have it. I found the missing dots!
We know that exposure to Glyphosate leads immediately health problems in animals and humans. It can also easily lead to death, as is evidenced by data on Japanese suicides who were successful – they took enough of it to do the trick. Japanese researchers analysing suicides have found that drinking 3/4 of a cup (200 ml) of commercial glyphosate products is fatal. See Monsanto’s Toxic Herbicide Glyphosate: A Review of its Health and Environmental Effects
For those that didn’t take enough, they are left with serious health problems, see:- Glyphosate poisoning.
“Accidental ingestion of glyphosate formulations is generally associated with only mild, transient, gastrointestinal features. Most reported cases have followed the deliberate ingestion of the concentrated formulation of Roundup (41% glyphosate as the IPA salt and 15% POEA). There is a reasonable correlation between the amount ingested and the likelihood of serious systemic sequelae or death. Advancing age is also associated with a less favourable prognosis. Ingestion of >85 mL of the concentrated formulation is likely to cause significant toxicity in adults. Gastrointestinal corrosive effects, with mouth, throat and epigastric pain and dysphagia are common. Renal and hepatic impairment are also frequent and usually reflect reduced organ perfusion. Respiratory distress, impaired consciousness, pulmonary oedema, infiltration on chest x-ray, shock, arrythmias, renal failure requiring haemodialysis, metabolic acidosis and hyperkalaemia may supervene in severe cases. Bradycardia and ventricular arrhythmias are often present pre-terminally. Dermal exposure to ready-to-use glyphosate formulations can cause irritation and photo-contact dermatitis has been reported occasionally; these effects are probably due to the preservative Proxel (benzisothiazolin-3-one). Severe skin burns are very rare. Inhalation is a minor route of exposure but spray mist may cause oral or nasal discomfort, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, tingling and throat irritation. Eye exposure may lead to mild conjunctivitis, and superficial corneal injury is possible if irrigation is delayed or inadequate. Management is symptomatic and supportive, and skin decontamination with soap and water after removal of contaminated clothing should be undertaken in cases of dermal exposure.
We also know that GM products, or the chemicals that are involved with them, cause serious problems both in humans and animals, as I previously documented in Evidence Against GM Accumulates! The thing that was puzzling me was that why should the final product be causing such problems. The chemicals are normally applied so early in the growing season that normal rainfall should have washed most of the problem away – but no, this was patently not the case.
Then I came across a reference to “Pre-Harvest Desiccation”, and I was immediately alert. This sounded as though it could be a clue.
What is Pre-harvest Desiccation exactly?
“If crops can not fully mature due to excessive rain, as was the case in the summer of 2011, herbicides are used to bring the crops to maturity by means of a “deathspray”. The method facilitates the drying of the crops as well as removing all weeds for the next sowing period, and has become common for the harvest of potatoes, cereals, canola and pulses.” See Monsanto watch
“Death-spray before Harvests
Glyphosate probably entered human populations over the past 10 years through its increasing presence in daily foods such as meat and dairy products, vegetable and fruit produce and grains products. Glyphosate laced genetically modified Roundup soya which enters the animal food chain, is only one of the risk factors. Even more dangerous now is the increasing use of herbicides in the EU over the past several years for the desiccation of entire stocks of harvestable crop. “Spraying crops to death”, as desiccation should be more aptly called, means that herbicides are being sprayed directly on the crops shortly before they are to be harvested to facilitate the harvest by uniformly killing off all living plants (including the crops) on the field. If crops can not fully mature due to excessive rain, as was the case in the summer of 2011, herbicides are used to bring the crops to maturity by means of a “death-spray”. The method facilitates the drying of the crops as well as removing all weeds for the next sowing period, and has become common for the harvest of potatoes, cereals, canola and pulses. For potatoes, spraying herbicides on the field immediately before harvest (2.5 l/ha), hardens the skin and reduces susceptibility to late blight and germination, which improved the potatoes shelf life. Active compounds of the herbicide directly enter the potato through the leaves; however, decomposition of the poison takes place in the body of the consumer.”
Pre-harvest desiccation is carried out a few days before harvesting the crop – the exact period depends on the crop being grown, but for wheat it is 7 days. The time at which spraying occurs is most probably the hottest and driest time of the year, so the chances of chemicals being diluted by rain are very remote. Consequently, as Monsanto are recommending Roundup as a suitable desiccant, they want the allowable Glyphosate residues in food to be increased. Hence “Monsanto has applied to increase the EU’s permitted Maximum Residue Level (MRL) for its best-selling herbicide glyphosate in lentils. Proposals before the EU would mean increasing the current legal residue level by 100-150 times. The chemical is widely used on GM crops and elsewhere for weed control and to dry crops prior to harvest.”
“The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a “reasoned opinion” in January 2012 supporting Monsanto’s request to raise the MRL in lentils and recommended a level of 10 or even 15 mg/kg (a potential 150-fold increase on the current MRL). MRLs for other crops on which glyphosate is routinely applied while growing, such as wheat and GM soya, have already been granted similarly elevated MRLs by the EU.”
In other words, an increase in chemical load in the food chain is just being “waved through” by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)!
Unfortunately, the basis for EFSA’s deliberations seem to be at variance with other information on the combined effects of Glyphosate, surfactants, and the other chemicals in the Roudup formula. In particular;-
“The researchers found that the presence of the other chemical ingredients in Roundup formulations, such as POEA, actually amplified glyphosate’s toxic effects. The toxicities of the Roundup formulations were not proportional to the amount of glyphosate they contained, and are most likely due to POEA and other as yet undisclosed ingredient(s) present in all the formulations. POEA by itself is much more toxic than the Roundup formulations, while AMPA is more toxic than glyphosate.”
Aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA)
Polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA)
See Death by Multiple Poisoning, Glyphosate and Roundup for more detail.
Monsanto must be laughing all the way to the bank. They get to use Roundup on all sorts of non-gm crops, and their sales must be going up leaps and bounds.
Who pays the bill? We do, with our health!
Unfortunately, the whole concept of pre-harvest desiccation is government sanctioned. In Ireland:- Cereals Management
Pre-harvest desiccation of cereals
Growers should consider desiccating their cereals with a pre-harvest treatment of glyphosate, both as an aid to harvesting and as a means of controlling perennial weeds (e.g. scutch) in following crops.
And in the UK:- Pesticide Residue Minimisation
“During the mid 1980s, it was discovered that glyphosate could be applied to grass weeds prior to harvesting the cereal crop. Application at this time had no adverse effects on the crop, but was effective at killing grass weeds such as black-grass. Pre-harvest glyphosate is also an effective treatment for the control of potato volunteers in wheat crops. Treatment of crops pre-harvest also improved the efficiency of harvesting. Glyphosate is now used as a pre-harvest desiccant for cereals and 12% of GB wheat crops were treated in 2002. Its primary use is to promote even and rapid ripening. Information on the manufacturer’s website (www.monsanto-ag.co.uk) states that glyphosate can improve the Hagberg Falling Number (a key indicator of bread-making quality) by reducing the proportion of green grains, reduce the moisture content of the harvested grain and reduce losses at combining. Other benefits stated by the manufacturer include lower mycotoxin levels in store due to the drier grain, weed control, earlier harvest, and a longer harvest window.
Ok, so what is the result? See for yourselves!
The people being investigated have nothing to do with agriculture, and the problem is coming through the normal food chain.
What are we going to do about it?
There are some glimmers of dissent to be found:-
In Canada, Reglone Dessiccant is the only product registered for the explicit purpose of desiccating crops. Herbicide Options to Enhance Harvesting FAQ
However, Reglone is comprised of Diquat Dibromide, which has its own problems, of course.
“Ontario’s lawns, gardens, school yards and parks are a lot healthier since the province’s cosmetic pesticides ban came into effect on Earth Day, April 22, 2009.”
But the shining star in our heaven is Switzerland, which has a complete ban on pre-harvest desiccants!
But I shouldn’t rush to emigrate just yet. Switzerland has to import a large percentage of its food, and of course, the imports are contaminated!