FoE reacts to Government statement on use of glyphosate

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90% of urine samples in Malta showed traces of weed killerIn a reaction to the statement issued by the Maltese Government, Friends of the Earth Malta said it would like to invite government to issue the studies which test for glyphosate contamination on food samples and their residues in humans.

“The truth is that very little testing has been done for glyphosate so far in Europe, with just five countries testing any cereals in 2009, and 15 countries in 2010. A new testing programme was introduced in 2012, which will test for glyphosate in oats and rye in 2013, wheat flour in 2014 and wheat in 2015. No tests at all are carried out on GM soybeans used in animal feed in any European country,” FoE said.

“As for the claim that Glyphosate has a ‘low’ toxicity, Glyphosate was approved for EU-wide use in 2002 but the European regulatory agencies did not carry out their own safety testing, relying instead on data provided by the manufacturers and industry studies, not from peer-reviewed science, and is not available for independent scrutiny.,” the NGO said.

Friends of the Earth is concerned that the regulatory authorities have not properly considered independent science on glyphosate. “It is important that the public should have confidence in the approvals process – but how can we trust a regulatory system when it relies on studies that have been funded by industry and which are classed as confidential?”

FoR pointed out that “independent studies have shown that low levels of glyphosate may affect the human hormone system and that it may also affect the ability of cells to reproduce – causing possible genetic mutations and an increased risk of cancer. In parts of South America where glyphosate-tolerant GM soy is grown extensively, there have been reports of increases in rates of cancer and birth defects.

“One study in Paraguay found that the babies of women living within one kilometre of fields sprayed with glyphosate were more than twice as likely to have birth defects. In the soy-growing Chaco district of Argentina, cancer rates have increased fourfold in the last decade.”

Friends of the Earth Malta said it can confirm that “the test followed a standard scientific methodology and samples were sent to a reputable lab in Germany together with other samples from 17 other European countries and the technical report is readily available.”

“As already pointed out in the original statement issued by Friends of the Earth, the main aim of this investigation was to test whether this herbicide has made it into our bodies. The result is a yes; what’s even more worrying is that the Maltese sample of positives was higher than anywhere else. We’re not in a position to speculate about the source; but it sure does raise questions.” FoE said.

Friends of the Earth Malta said it would like to ask government the following questions:

“Why do people have glyphosate in their urine? Where does it come from?

Why haven´t public authorities ever published the results they claim to have done when it comes to testing on glyphosate residues in humans, in food, animal feeds (such as imported soy) and drinking water, if any?

What are the health impacts of glyphosate in our bodies?

Is it guaranteed that glyphosate residues are completely excreted?

If not, what happens to the remaining residues?

Why haven´t there been any long-term health studies on on-going glyphosate uptake in humans?

Why have the maximum residue levels (MRLs) for glyphosate in food and feed been steadily increased?

Who is profiting from increasing glyphosate use?

Why are there no recent figures on herbicide / pesticide use in Malta since 2007?

What is government’s position concerning applications to grow glyphosate-resistant genetically modified crops in Europe?

Will government vote against cultivation of these crops?” Friends of the Earth Malta concluded.


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