Day of reckoning coming for pre-harvest glyphosate?

Five years ago, about half of the pigs in Canada were raised with ractopamine.

In 2018 the percentage is basically zero.

Use of the feed additive, which increases the rate of gain for hogs, dropped to nothing because Canada’s pork industry listened to market signals.

Major buyers, like China and Russia, didn’t want pork with ractopamine residues — even though the science shows the beta agonist is safe and that residues pose little risk for human health.

In response, Canadian hog producers abandoned ractopamine. They altered their practices to satisfy the realities of the marketplace.

Canadian farmers who produce wheat, oats and other crops are getting similar signals from the marketplace.

But it’s hard to know if they’re listening to the signals or tuning the radio to a different station.

Last week, a California jury awarded $289 million to a school groundskeeper who claimed that exposure to Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The court decision rattled investors and hammered the stock value of Bayer, which recently acquired Monsanto and its well-known herbicide.

Bayer stock sank by nearly 11 percent and the German firm lost about $14 billion in value in one day.

Investors sold off Bayer over fears that the jury award will prompt additional lawsuits by individuals or groups claiming glyphosate caused their cancer.

“A large number of similar pending cases will now likely multiply,” a market watcher told Reuters.

Bayer could be tied up in court cases for years or will have to fork over billions to settle the lawsuits. Future court cases over glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, will generate more negative press — encouraging retailers to pull the product from shelves and fuelling political pressure to ban the herbicide. Investors are also asking questions about future sales of glyphosate-tolerant crops, which are core to Monsanto’s business.

The California jury was likely swayed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization.

In March of 2015, IARC announced that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans.

Dozens of toxicologists have slammed the IARC classification over the last three and a half years. Many scientists have described IARC as biased and most believe that IARC’s methods and analysis were deeply flawed.

The European Food Safety Authority, a joint Food and Agriculture Organization/WHO meeting and regulatory agencies around the world have all have concluded that glyphosate is not carcinogenic to humans.

The science may say that glyphosate is safe, but few are listening to the science:

• Last fall, the European Union came close to banning glyphosate. Germany and France may still ban the herbicide.

• California introduced a regulation requiring glyphosate to come with a warning label saying it causes cancer.

• A major miller has said it will no longer buy oats if they are sprayed with glyphosate prior to harvest.

• Italy is refusing to buy Canadian durum wheat, partly over concerns that glyphosate is used on the durum prior to harvest.

• This week the New York Times wrote a piece on how traces of glyphosate were found in Cheerios, Quaker Oats and other breakfast foods.

Neil Harker, a former Agriculture Canada scientist in Alberta, has said spraying the herbicide prior to harvest to dry down the crop is the source of glyphosate residues in cereal and pulse crops.

Cereals Canada and other industry groups have warned farmers that glyphosate is under increased scrutiny. Therefore, when producers use glyphosate as a harvest aid, they must carefully adhere to label guidelines to prevent unacceptably high residue levels in the grain.

When agronomists are asked about using glyphosate as a desiccant, the standard response is: “glyphosate is not a desiccant,” which is tactful way of saying, “if a producer plans to desiccate, he should use an actual desiccant.”

Despite all those signals from grain buyers, politicians, the public, the media and agronomists, Canadian producers continue to apply glyphosate on millions of acres prior to harvest.

The question is why.

Is it to make a point — to show that they won’t be intimidated and bullied by activists?

Do they fear if they give an inch on pre-harvest glyphosate, that activists will attack the use of glyphosate for early season weed control or post-harvest use?

Those stances have some merit, but grain growers may want to revisit the story of ractopamine and Canada’s pork industry.

Pork exports are now booming and Canada has maintained its reputation as a source of high quality pork.

That sort of reputation has long-term value, and it’s certainly worth protecting.

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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Comments

  • richard

    Farmers will continue to desecrate cereals with glyphosate……”to show they (farmers) won’t be bullied and intimidated by activists”….. versus being humiliated by their peers and chemical reps for not using glyphosate……right? Meanwhile Kazakstan, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey where they don’t practice this mindless act….. will gladly eat your lunch. Nothing like cutting off your nose to spite your face…. just to get even with the activists???

  • ed

    Yes, that should have happened a long time ago. The key component in Roundup and the surfactants used to enhance the products ability to breach the plants natural defences and enbed deep inside the plants outer protection and then systemically invade every part of it right to the tip of it’s roots, have long been known to cause cancer. There is a deemed tolerable level however. Round up ready plants as well as humans have a deemed tolerence level that will allow them to make it more or less intact until the summers end and into harvest. If you go beyond that level the plants wilt and can die. Humans are really no different and because as Monsanto states, it is the most widely used pesticide in the history of mankind, the cumulative effects are reaching a tipping point. If all water, soil and air on the planet now has tracable amounts of glysophate in it, it stands to reason that it is in all the milk, vegetables, fruits and breakfast cereals that we are feeding our children. It high time that we give mother earth a bit of a break here.

  • patzagame

    Ask 100 consumers if they prefer traces of Roundup herbicide in their food or herbicide free food,see what the answer is!

  • neil

    Farmers continue to use preharvest glyphosate not to make a point but because it is the best agronomic solution for controlling perennial weeds like thistles and winter annual weeds such as cleavers. In addition it saves the quality of the grain by avoiding swathing leaving the crop vulnerable to rains. Lastly to straight cut crop without weed and crop straw and chaff dry down would require major investment in grain storage as most older bins do not have aeration capabilities so the crop would be much more vulnerable to spoilage in storage. However I do agree the market is sending us major signals that we may lose this valuable agronomic tool. If we do it will make not only harvesting riskier and harder but also impair our ability to direct seed the following spring into weed free stubble. That will be very costly to our ability to take care of the soil but it may come to that.

    • Brian_D_Cross

      richard, the word you’re looking for is desiccate, not desecrate. john, it’s durum wheat, not durham. kinda calls in to to question the credibility of your comments if your basic knowledge of terminology is lacking. just saying…

    • Denise

      It may be a valuable tool for farmers but it’s draining our valuable health care resources and doctors’ time, at the other end, trying to figure out how to treat all these patients with gastro-intestinal disorders from eating glyphosate tainted grains fruits and vegetables and cancers after being exposed to this toxic chemical without proper warnings or protective gear.

      • neil

        I respect your opinion as a concerned consumer and if you are correct then glyphosate should be banned from all use. I know we won’t agree on the science behind your concerns or the science behind why I believe it is safe to use. However if consumers do convince government regulatory agencies to ban it I will accept it as a consumers right and change my farming practices accordingly. Thank you for your reply.

      • steve webster

        B T corn is very bad and 7 years ago top doctors in the U.S . And Canada tried to stop by corn sed from being sold but Monsanto made all the right [ donations].

        • Denise

          Monsanto/Bayer are in deep trouble. Bayer’s arrogant belief they could continue to do business as usual with Monsanto’s products.The lies and deception have caught up with them.
          The day of reckoning is upon them

    • ron

      lots of other countries grow crops without the use of all that poison, if you forgot how I suggest you relearn the art of farming as it seems to be a lost art now taken over by huge corporate greed.

      • neil

        As far as I know most if not all industrialized countries allow the use of glyphosate in their farming. Many countries with subsistence small landholder farmers it doesn’t make sense because their farming systems still revolve around manual labour with no tractors fertilizer pesticides that larger farms in industrialized countries use. I know how to farm without the products you refer to but would likely lose lots of money and be out of business. That is why farming has evolved with modern products but I respect that as a consumer you would rather we go back to organic farming. It may be harder on our soil for weed control but there are always trade offs with different systems.

        • steve webster

          Roundup is used too much at the moment. Use restrictions should be placed on round-up world wide

  • Frank

    RE: ‘A California jury awarded $289 million…’
    This is going be as huge as Big-Tobacco, (made bigger )!

    • Exactly the same lawyers defended big tobacco. 😮
      see: “Indeed, one of Monsanto’s lead defense attorneys in the San Francisco case was George Lombardi, whose resumé boasts of his work defending big tobacco.”

  • Italy has a bug because until now, it was the leader in the production of Durham wheat, the pasta grain.

  • Gerald Landry

    In 2007 driving back from BC to Northern Ontario I was shocked to see a 5000 Gallon Herbicide Spray Tank at a Grain Pharm. I started contemplating as to whether this was causing all the bowel disorders by up-taking into the gluten. A year later cats and small dogs were dying of kidney failure from melamine in the gluten.
    Glyphosate originated as a Chelator to remove mineral scale in Boiler Tubes and Industrial Piping! Will the residues in grains Chelate our Nutritional Minerals. Our Electrolyte Balance is crucial for good health.
    As an anecdote of personal experience building an Air Emissions Project where heavy metals are Chelated from Pulp Fibre, when the wind blew from the SW, fumes from 27 Vents and Chimneys were blowing towards us we inhaled the heavy metals and Chelator which depleted our Nutritional Minerals except for Potassium and Manganese which were in the Emissions. High cellular Potassium is related to cardiac issue’s of which over a dozen tradesman suffered. Toxic levels of manganese cause neurological impairment.

    • solitairecat64

      You’ve made a very important point.

      In his article 12 Things You Need to Know About Magnesium Deficiency Dr. Hardick encapsulates the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in today with epidemic levels of magnesium deficiency, the major cause being “herbicides like glyphosate act as chelators, effectively blocking the plants’ uptake and utilization of minerals from the soil”.

      He quotes Dr. Norman Shealy that “Every known illness is associated with magnesium deficiency… magnesium is the most critical mineral required for electrical stability of every cell in the body. A magnesium deficiency may be responsible for more diseases than any other nutrient.”

      He lists diseases that are correlated with a magnesium deficiency like cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, ADD, Fibromyalgia, etc.

      We think of osteoporosis as a disease of the elderly but our neighbor in his mid-50’s is in the process of having his hips replaced and I wondered what could have caused this to happen. It must be a magnesium deficiency but his doctor failed to even consider this and his health will continue to suffer because he doesn’t realize he needs to change his diet.

      My brother, also in his mid-50’s is experiencing shortness of breath, and the heart specialist prescribed Statins which do not resolve the underlying problem. He’s confused because he’s eating what they say is a heart healthy diet. I’m trying to persuade him to consider anti-nutrients like gluten and lectins, but glyphosate is likely implicated as well.

      My husband has atrial fibrillation which is also associated with a magnesium deficiency.

      Clearly we must take responsibility for our own health because it will take the medical system 20 years to figure out what’s going on, if they ever do!

  • Tony Mitra

    I am a Indian-born Canadian citizen and food security activist, and author of the book “POISON FOODS OF North America” based on analysis of CFIA test results on glyphosate. I have had quite a few hitherto unsuccessful meetings with federal and provincial (BC) politicians and ministers to push back at glyphosate in agriculture or anywhere else on the planet, unless Canada discloses hitherto hidden test records on safety of glyphosate, which the Govt received from Monsanto back in the 1970s and has been hiding till date. In my view of the constitutional law, no product may be released to the people without releasing its safety document. And yet, the government hides it, and replaces it with a plethora of “independent scientific repots” from around the world, selectively picked, that declare glyphosate to be safe.

    All those reports are third party opinions and nothing more. Proof of safety involves exposing a group of test animals in laboratory conditions with measured dose of glyphosate, and comparing their health parameters, through the life of those animals, with health parameters of identical animals living identical lifestyle and eating identical food but without glyphosate. This comparative study is what comprises of proof if glyphosate is, or is not, safe. Pubic have a right to this data and be able to independently scrutinize it to check if the test and analysis was done honestly and there was no cheating. As the California court report indicates, Monsanto cheated and purposefully down played evidence of harm to test animals that were subjected to glyphosate. Worse yet, Monsanto has a habit of testing rats for only 3 months and not the life of the rats (usually 2 years), so that the test is concluded before some of the slow developing diseases, such as growth of cancerous cells, can be clearly identified and measured.

    I have been battling the Canadian Government through Access to Information act appal so it releases all documents originally received from Monsanto back in the 1970 based on which health Canada first approved glyphosate for agriculture, or alternately I am given in writing that I do not have the right to those documents. The Government has indirectly agreed I have the right to the documents and yet it drags its feet for ever, hoping I shall die of old age so they can close the file.

    Meanwhile, the analysis of Canadian seed crops that are desiccated with glyphosate show high continuation in virtually all cereals and products made from them. this includes wheat, rye, barley, oats, etc. That is not all, even seed crops that are not so common in Canadian diet but is grown in large quantities for export, such as pulses, are also desiccated. Millions of tons of red lentils are exported to India. India has not approved use of glyphosate in any food crop and only allows controlled amount in tea gardens. My book ‘POISON FOODS OF NORTH AMERICA’ shows the high contamination of glyphosate in lentils imported by India. I have warned Indians about it. I have been invited in multiple towns in India, such as Delhi (Capital) as well as Kolkata and Bangalore, to speak to people about this mass poisoning of India with a herbicide that is illegal in India and whose safety documents are hidden by the Canadian Government. This news has been picked up in more than a dozen mainstream papers in India, both in English and local languages.

    Two provincial governments have passed orders to clamp down on all illegal sale, distribution or use go glyphosate in the last two weeks. One opposition MP has brought my warning to the floor of the Indian parliament during zero hour question and answer and changed the minister of Food for not taking care of protecting Indians from poisons that are banned in Indian agriculture but coming in bushel full from imported crops. The Ministry has promised to look into it and protect Indians from this menace.

    I have met at least two provincial ministers in India who are far more receptive than Canadian ministers have been, I am sorry to say. The environment minister of the state of West Bengal invited me to write. a letter to him with attached documents covering a few issues, so he can bring it up in cabinet discussions – about how to push back at glyphosate on two fronts, one is from pulses imported from Canada and Australia and the second from illegal use of glyphosate pushed through corrupt agents trying to misguide farmers.

    I know Canadian press, media and even social/agricultural platforms have an involuntary bias of primarily noticing what happens in western countries, such as Italy, California, France, Germany etc, and not what happens in countries with people that have dark skin, such as Sri lanka, India for example. Otherwise, the issues taking place across India since I arrived to warn them of glyphosate laced lentils from Canada, or what happened in last four years in Sri Lanka, where huge number of farm workers died from kidney failure after starting to use glyphosate to spray sugarcane crops etc, would have made front page news.

    I am trying my best to make India 1) demand either Canada discloses the forty five year old hidden safety documents of Glyphosate and lets Indians to independently verify honesty and validity of those papers, 2) Immediately cancel all imports of Canadian grains unless each parcel can be demonstrated to be free of all biocides that are not approved for use by India, 3) Initiate broad based testing of all food for glyphosate and pay special attention to all imported grains from countries that are known to desiccate any crop with glyphosate 4) Initiate independent lab test on safety of glyphosate to a few species of mammals, conducted through the entire life cycle of the animals, and 5) disclose all data to the public.

    I have been told near 8 million acres of farmland is allocated in Saskatchewan just to grow lentils for export to India, while nobody is measuring effects of it on wildlife and people’s health. I will not bother giving links on these because your admin might remove them.

    For the sake of Canadian people and what is left of Canada’s forests and biodiversity, I am doing my best to convince Indian federal politicians and provincial governments to federally cancels or provincially disallow sale of any and all grain imports from Canada unless each parcel can be proven to be poison free.

    Pardon any typo, since I wrote this on the fly and do not have the time to proof read it.

    Cheers and have a great day everybody.

    • ron

      thank you and great work!!

    • steve webster

      We took monsanto to court 6 years ago they have the laws in monsanto favor. If we had of continued our lawsuit they [Monsanto] would have spent so much as to bankrupted my father David webster or a $15,000 claim 226 889 9299

  • P_B

    It would help if producers wouldn’t cheat on the time interval. I have heard farmers say that “with the heat it was ready a few days early so I combined it anyway!” So, abuse it and lose it. Actually, 25 years ago there was quite a push to use aeration to eliminate swathing and a lot of farmers became pretty good at it. Pre-harvest glyphosate costs about US$.20/bu. and dying would cost about the same. Most new bin setups come with fans. Save the glyphosate for post-harvest weed control.

  • Sheryl McCumsey

    “Dozens of toxicologists have slammed the IARC classification over the last three and a half years. Many scientists have described IARC as biased and most believe that IARC’s methods and analysis were deeply flawed.” Which toxicologists? How is it “biased”? How is it “deeply flawed”? Does anyone ever have a thought in their head about why “activists” are concerned about this?

  • islandboy

    I as an average Canadian consumer am telling anyone that will listen – the quality canadian products we used to love are contaminated at harvest time – with GLYPHOSATE.
    Glyphos
    ate as a desiccant WHAT ARE YOU THINKING !!!!

  • April Reeves

    First, activists are not bullies. They are an integral part of the picture to keep corporations and governments fairly honest. Second, whose science are we speaking of? Corporate? Nothing else needs to be said. What farmers, corporations and “others” need to realize is that the consumer is king when it comes to what they will put on a fork. Until every sector of the food industry realizes this, there will always be activists. Plus, all Monsanto had to do was TELL THE TRUTH.

  • ron

    funny how all the farmers who say they can’t farm without toxic sprays like round up seem to forget there are many farmers that grow crops without using it, ie organic farmers and European farmers etc. farmers have become too dependent on chemicals and it is high time for this disasterous practice to stop

    • steve webster

      Roundup is over used a good tool for spot spraying fence bottom weed control . It should been used to use as a desicant.

  • ron

    great article!!

  • solitairecat64

    According to BMJ “widespread declines in life expectancy across high income countries coincide with rising young adult and midlife mortality in the United States”.

    “Commonwealth University and colleagues found that although drug overdoses, suicides, and alcoholism were the leading cause of excess deaths, mortality rates also increased dramatically for organ diseases involving the heart, lung, and other body systems. “

    This is a very scary situation when numerous people around us are succumbing to cancer, heart disease and other killers and our health care system is treating these disorders without even considering the cause is the glyphosate which is used on the food we are eating!

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