Tag Archives: herbicides

Killing from Bottom-Up: RoundUp

 

Roundup Tree Stump & Root Killer 250ml 018935 C
It’s been a tough year for glyphosate, the world’s most popular weedkiller. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, declared that glyphosate—the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup products—was probably carcinogenic to humans. In the months since, multiple lawsuits have been filed blaming the chemical for causing cancer and birth defects. In February, testing found traces of glyphosate in German beer and organic panty liners sold in France. Other tests have found chemical residue in British bread, as well as in the urine of people across Europe. In early March, the European Union put off a vote to renew a 15-year license for glyphosate after several member states balked.
Monsanto famously advertised Roundup, which was introduced in 1974, as safer than table salt. In 1996 the company stopped making the table salt claim after complaints from New York state….. In September 2016 state officials in California proposed adding the herbicide to a list of known carcinogens. The FDA said in February 2016 that it would begin testing for glyphosate residue in food in the U.S. The results aren’t yet available. The Environmental Protection Agency has been reviewing its use since 2009. The agency, which in 1985 temporarily classified glyphosate as “possibly carcinogenic,” was supposed to wrap up sometime last year; it now says a draft of its decision should be available for public comment sometime this year.

The herbicide industry has mounted an aggressive campaign to discredit the cancer finding and to convince regulators—and the public—that the herbicide should remain in use. …

Glyphosate works by blocking the production of certain amino acids that a plant needs to grow, and it’s nonselective, meaning it kills most plants. It began to dominate the herbicide market only after Monsanto genetically engineered crops to survive it, marketing them under its Roundup Ready brand. Global sales of glyphosate were about $7.8 billion in 2014, 30 percent of the herbicide market, according to Cropnosis, a market-research firm. Monsanto’s dominance of the glyphosate market has declined since the chemical went off patent in 2000. Some weeds have become resistant to glyphosate, triggering the need for other weedkillers. Nonetheless, Roundup remains the primary money-maker for Monsanto’s agricultural productivity segment, which brought in 32 percent of its revenue in fiscal 2015.
A rejection of glyphosate by either the U.S. or Europe would have “massive” ramifications on farming and food production, says Jason Miner, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. “You could quickly take us two decades back in terms of farm yields,” he says. “The world doesn’t have capacity to produce all the alternatives.”

Monsanto’s Roundup Could Get Whacked by European Regulators, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Mar. 10, 2016

Ecuador versus Colombia: the Toxic Herbicides Case

Plane spaying herbicide in Colombia, image from wikipedia

Press Release of the International Court of Justice

The case brought by the Republic of Ecuador against the Republic of Colombia on 31 March 2008 before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in respect of a dispute concerning “Colombia’s aerial spraying of toxic herbicides at locations near, at and across its border with Ecuador” was removed from the Court’s List on 13 September 2013 at the request of Ecuador…

According to the letters received from the Parties, the Agreement of 9 September 2013 [between Colombia and Ecuador] establishes, inter alia, an exclusion zone, in which Colombia will not conduct aerial spraying operations, creates a Joint Commission to ensure that spraying operations outside that zone have not caused herbicides to drift into Ecuador and, so long as they have not, provides a mechanism for the gradual reduction in the width of the said zone; according to the letters, the Agreement sets out operational parameters for Colombia’s spraying programme, records the agreement of the two Governments to ongoing exchanges of information in that regard, and establishes a dispute settlement mechanism.  In consequence, the President of the Court, on 13 September 2013, made an Order recording the discontinuance by Ecuador of the proceedings and directing the removal of the case from the Court’s List.

Aerial Herbicide Spraying (Ecuador v. Colombia), Case removed from the Court’s List at the request of the Republic of Ecuador, Press Release International Court of Justice,  Sept. 17, 2013

Order of the Court