Farmers on the island of Bermuda are supporting their government’s decision to ban the importation of the popular weed killer Roundup following a study which linked the herbicide to cancer in humans.
Bermudian government officials announced yesterday they are suspending imports of Monsanto’s Roundup after a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded ingredients in the herbicide to be “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
“This description is used when there is limited evidence of cancer causing effect on humans and sufficient evidence of it in experimental animals,” the Bermudian Ministry of Health said in a statement yesterday.
“Effective immediately, all importers of glyphosate/Roundup will be notified that the approval for all glyphosate products has been suspended, pending the continuing assessment of the emerging research,” health authorities said.
Health officials will continue looking into the agency’s findings over the next six months, but said they would honor orders placed before May 11 and will give importers who wish to receive “small quantities of low concentrations of Roundup” a two week grace period to do so.
In the meantime, farmers are praising the government for taking a potentially deadly chemical out of their lives.
“I think it is a great thing and Government should be commended for it,” farmer Tom Wadson of Wadson’s Farm told The Royal Gazette. “Nobody seems to know how much of this stuff is getting sprayed along the roadsides in Bermuda and where it all goes.”
“There are other ways to do this — my main concern has always been with what this is doing to animals. Clearly it ties up heavy metals in the soil and it is having massive implications with reproduction in animals and now they have discovered that it may be carcinogenic.
“We use very limited amounts — I have about of a gallon of it around here — I used it in the past but now it’s something we use for special things like poisoned ivy and stuff that nothing else seems to touch.
“There are alternatives that use less toxic substances — there are organic herbicides now — we use one called Axxe. It works. All the road side weeds could be killed with hot salt water or fire.”
Another farmer, Carlos Amaral of Amaral Farms, said he supports the government’s decision, but believes banning the herbicide won’t impact Bermuda as much as it would in the US, since no one on the island is allowed to grow genetically-modified agriculture.
“We as farmers here in Bermuda do not grow any genetically modified crops or any round-up ready crops so it is not a concern for us from that standpoint,” Amaral said.
The IARC in March concluded “there is significant evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.”
“Glyphosate also caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells…,” the IARC report notes, adding “One study in community residents reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) after glyphosate formulations were sprayed nearby.”
The National Pesticide Information Center has also found “symptoms of erosion of the gastrointestinal tract, dysphagia… and gastrointestinal hemorrhage” among 80 cases of intentional Roundup ingestion, seven of which resulted in death.
A recent study published in Environmental Health also found glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and other pesticides were primarily responsible for the rise in chronic kidney disease among farmers in Sri Lanka.
Perhaps that’s why a pesticide lobbyist was apprehensive over taking a drink of the chemical when presented the opportunity.