France Bans Monsanto's Roundup as Environmental Groups Push WHO for Stronger Safety Standards
What's a GMO-promoting multinational chemical company to do? Word is getting out that, while the science isn't clear whether genetically modified crops (GMOs) themselves are harmful, the fact that they were created to be resistant to increasing amounts of pesticides such as glyphosate is a problem.
Monsanto, which manufactures the glyphosate weedkiller Roundup, reacted furiously to a report released earlier this year by the World Health Organization (WHO) that glyphosate likely causes cancer. The company demanded that WHO retract the report, repudiating the years of research by multiple scientists. With Roundup the most widely used and top-selling herbicide, Monsanto clearly has a bottom line to protect.
That bottom line has just taken another hit. In Europe, where people are far more suspicious of the extravagant claims and potential dangers of GMOs than in the U.S. and heavily regulates them, the French government has announced this week that it is restricting the sale of glyphosate weedkillers in garden centers.
"France must be on the offensive with regards to the banning of pesticides,” said ecology minister Ségolène Royal. “I have asked garden centers to stop putting Monsanto’s Roundup on sale."
— Ségolène Royal (@RoyalSegolene) June 14, 2015
Meanwhile, concern is growing in the U.S. about the use of glyphosate and the new Enlist Duo herbicide from Dow which combines glyphosate and 2,4-D to combat another problem stemming from glyphosate use: the rise of "superweeds" resistant to pesticides. "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should heavily weigh the world’s leading cancer experts’ recent classification of glyphosate as the agency moves through its process to reregister this widely used herbicide," said Mary Ellen Kustin, senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
"In the U.S., most glyphosate is sprayed on farmland—roughly 280 million pounds annually. Blanketing genetically engineered crops with glyphosate accounts for the vast majority of the toxic herbicide’s agricultural use. But without requiring labels on GMO foods similar to labeling laws in France and 63 other countries around the world, the U.S. leaves its consumers confused as to whether or not they’re buying GMO foods," Kustin continued.
France's action comes as a coalition of environmental groups sent WHO a letter urging it to set safety standards for glyphosate weedkillers. The group, which includes the Natural Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth U.S., Friends of the Earth Europe, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network of North America, Pesticide Action Network UK, Food & Water Watch and Toxic Free North Carolina, expressed concern that the eight-member expert advisory committee reviewing WHO's glyphosate/cancer report includes three panelists who have ties to the chemical industry, including Monsanto.
"The WHO is highly respected for protecting public health around the world, and it should move forward immediately to safeguard people from being harmed by glyphosate,” said Natural Resources Defense Council health program director Erik Olson. “At the same time, the WHO should make absolutely sure that its expert review panel is free of conflicts of interest so it can make science-based evaluations of herbicide and pesticide residues on food and advise what levels are safe for people to be exposed to.”
"Time and time again we have seen corporate interests influence major decisions affecting the health of consumers and the environment," said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. "We will not stand by and watch WHO-IARC’s conclusion on glyphosate become watered down due to the presence of task force members tied to major biotech firms. Farmers, farmworkers and communities who live and work near farms sprayed with glyphosate are depending on a rigorous, independent review of this chemical and the WHO must provide it.”
Earlier this spring, a lobbyist had to eat his words (shall we say, drink his poison) on French television after claiming glyphosate was so safe, you could drink it. Watch what happens when he is offered the chance to drink some pesticides:
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Robin Scher
Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.
- Can Urban Farms Prevent Hunger in 54 Million People in the U.S. ... ›
- New Report Finds Malnutrition World's Top Killer Amid Pandemic ... ›
- Oxfam Warns 12,000 Could Die Per Day From Hunger Due to ... ›
- Three Ways to Support a Healthy Food System During the COVID ... ›
- Trump USDA Resumes Effort to Cut Food Stamp Benefits - EcoWatch ›
- Pandemic Threatens Food Security for Many College Students ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.
As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.
- 15 Top Conservation Issues of 2021 Include Big Threats, Potential ... ›
- How Blockchain Could Boost Clean Energy - EcoWatch ›
By David Drake and Jeffrey York
The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.
The Big Idea
People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.
- Major Milestone: More than 100,000 MW Worth of Coal-Fired Power ... ›
- Coal Will Not Bring Appalachia Back to Life, But Tech and ... ›
- Renewables Beat Coal in the U.S. for the First Time This April ... ›