Santa Rosa, California, 5 September 2017: On the occasion of the 2017 National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, California, Dr Vandana Shiva, keynote speaker at the event, presented the latest report of Navdanya “The Toxic Story of RoundUp: Freedom from the Poison Cartel through Agroecology” and invited people and communities to join forces and come together in a synergistic action for creating a Poison Free World. (Download pdf)
Photos by Becket Films – The Seeds of Vandana Shiva
The report describes the origins and growth of the Poison Cartel, the history of RoundUp and its basic ingredient, Glyphosate, and of RoundUp ready crops, and their impact on the environment and on people’s health, and the damage they are causing to our ecosystem. It goes on to describe the ways in which these mega-companies gain and keep control of their empires, among other things, in collusion with governmental agencies recently revealed in the Poison Papers and Monsanto Papers, undermining independent science and our democracies. The report ends with a section on the many ways that people and movements around the world are building alternatives and seeding the way towards a poison-free and more caring world.
The report points the finger at the Poison Cartel, the group of six poison producing seed and agro-giants intent on controlling our food systems. Over the last decades, these companies – which produced lethal poisons during the two world wars – turned to the agricultural market, where they saw enormous potential to keep multiplying their profits. So today they liberally spread agrochemical poisons wherever they can, wiping out millions of species, destroying our ecosystem, poisoning the entire web of life. They enlarge their empires and establish monopolies through free trade neoliberal policies and deregulation of commerce, broadening their control over our seed, our food, our freedom and democracies.
According to Stephen Hawking we have a century on Earth before we go extinct. We then must escape to other planets. Our response has to be that beyond extinction and escape is a third, decisive option – care of our Planet, Mother Earth, through a toxic-free, harmless and vibrant agriculture, free of fossil fuels and poisons, and redirect our economic interests from the present linear, extractive and industrial paradigm to a regenerative ecological and nature-based circular approach – the only possible response to the ecological and climate crisis, poverty, malnutrition and health emergencies which confront the world today.
Dr Vandana Shiva declared: “The war against plants and insects began in the concentration camps and in the war. It destroys biodiversity and it destroys our health. These poisons kill bees and butterflies. And they kill humans. We are not separate from the earth and other beings. The harm to other species is also harm to us. In an interconnected web of life there is no “us” and “them”, there are no “enemies” to be exterminated with lethal poisons. In the living world, harmony, balance and equilibrium work best. In a world of diversity, harmony and balance is peace, extermination is war”.
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Some facts and numbers from the Report (click on this link for full Fact Sheet)
- Syngenta & ChemChina ($43 billion) –
- Dow Chemical & Dupont ($130 billion) –
- Bayer & Monsanto ($57 billion)
Glyphosate use since its introduction:
According to a 2016 study by Charles M. Benbrook
- 56% of the world’s total glyphosate used is applied to GM crops
- Glyphosate based herbicides resistant crops globally account for 80% of the 120 million hectares of GM crops grown annually
- In the USA: 90% of soy and 70% of maize and cotton are glyphosate tolerant
- Increase of glyphosate use in the USA: from 0.8 million pounds (1974) to 250 million pounds, 67 % of which occurred in just the last 10 years
Herbicide resistant GMO crops: a failed technology
- In the USA 92% of RR cotton and soybeans are infested by uncontrolled spread of “superweeds” like amaranth.
- Farmers have started to switch to more powerful and more toxic products resistant to both glyphosate and Dicamba
- Dicamba based herbicides damages are being investigated in 17 States on a 2.5 million acres area.
Impact on Environment – Residues in water
- A recent US Geological Survey study sampled waterways in 38 states and found glyphosate and AMPA in the majority of rivers, streams, ditches, and wastewater treatment plant outfalls tested.
Impact on Environment – Residues in Soil
- Glyphosate tends to accumulate in soil as 95% is absorbed by the soil itself or by the roots of the plant, while only 5% gets to the targeted weed.
- Pesticides traces found in over 66% of the samples analyzed. The most commonly recognized substances are glyphosate (46%), DDT (25%) and fungicide products (24%).
Impact on Health
- Pesticides are responsible for the deaths of two hundred thousand people each year, of which 99% from countries of the Global South, as outlined in the latest report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Hilal Elver,
- Glyphosate was found in the urine of 93% of consumers undergoing toxicological investigation during the project, launched in 2015, by the University of San Francisco – California (UCSF).
- The social economic cost of the impact of neurological issues linked to pesticides use, such as lower IQS caused by prenatal exposure to agrochemicals amounts to 125bn per year.
- Roundup has been also linked to ‘chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology’ (CKDu) in Sri Lanka, India and Central America. In Sri Lanka, it has today become the most significant public health problem with more than 60,000 estimated patients and more than 20,000 deaths.
Corporate Crimes – The hidden truth
- Toxicity risk assessments of many chemical substances have been hidden from the public since the 1920s, by producers and regulatory agencies, as revealed in the “POISON PAPERS”: more than 20,000 documents released at the end of July 2017 by the Center for Media and Democracy and the Bioscience Resource Project.
- According to an investigation by Corporate Europe Observatory in June 2017, about 46% of the experts on the scientific panels of EFSA have a direct or indirect financial conflict of interest with the agribusiness industry.
- The Monsanto Papers contain hundreds of internal emails of Monsanto, as well as its correspondence with US Federal Agencies, the content of which reveals the magnitude of collusion between Monsanto and the EPA in order to undermine the investigation of the potential hazard of Glyphosate for human beings.
We don’t need poisons to feed the world. All scientific evidence is showing that small biodiverse ecological farms are more productive than large farms based on monocultures, chemicals and GMOs:
- The International Assessment of Agriculture Knowledge, Science and Technology has clearly shown that small agroecological farmers are more productive.
- The United Nations Environment Programme in “Preventing Future Famines” shows how small ecological farms enhance productivity through ecological functions.
- As Navdanya’s work over the last 3 decades has shown we can grow enough nutrition for two times the current population (Health per Acre), we can increase farmers’ incomes tenfold by giving up expenses for buying toxic chemicals (Wealth per Acre), we can address malnutrition and chronic diseases (Annam:Food As Health), and we can create climate resilience (How Biodiversity and Agroecology create Climate Resilience).