“With the prohibition of pesticides and a change in the form of agricultural production, what will be most affected is not the food needs of the population in Mexico, which are mainly served from peasant production and on a smaller scale, but the profits of the transnationals that they dominate the sale of pesticides and seeds, the production of fodder for the large livestock industry and a few other export products“.
Glyphosate was designed to kill plants, but since it is a poison it also affects insects, animals and humans. Like other pesticides, to make its biocidal mission more digestible, the industry calls it a herbicide. Glyphosate is the most widely used in the world, mainly because more than 85 percent of the transgenic crops grown were designed to be tolerant to it, which allowed the use of large volumes.
Monsanto patented it in 1974 and has since maintained that it is not very toxic and only affects herbs. But the company knew for decades, warned by its own researchers, that it has harmful effects on humans and animals, including carcinogens.
It took 41 years for the World Health Organization to declare, based on the work of an interdisciplinary team of 17 cancer experts from 11 countries, that glyphosate is indeed carcinogenic in animals and probable carcinogenic in humans. The team analyzed hundreds of scientific studies and called glyphosate probable carcinogenic in humans because it is not possible to do laboratory tests on humans to confirm the hypothesis. They were made in human cells,in vitro. They reviewed a large body of evidence in Scandinavian countries, showing a relationship between exposure to glyphosate and the development of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer.
That Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, knew of the high danger of glyphosate was demonstrated in courts in the United States, where to date there are more than 100,000 lawsuits against the company brought by people affected by cancer due to the use of glyphosate. Three courts sentenced multi-million dollar figures in favor of four plaintiffs - before appeals, more than $ 2 billion. The Court recognized an overwhelming amount of evidence that Monsanto knew of the damage and intentionally withheld it to continue selling the poison. According to the first judgment in favor of Dewayne Johnson, Monsanto acted with malice and negligence. All to continue making profits at the expense of people's health and the pollution of water, food and nature.
It is the same logic that defends the National Agricultural Council (CNA) in Mexico when it claims that this poison should continue to be used, as well as defending the use of other highly dangerous pesticides that are prohibited in other countries, such as paraquat. Those affected by glyphosate, particularly the farmers who use it and their families, should keep the evidence of these statements and those of Bayer-Monsanto and other companies that continue to sell glyphosate without warning of its high risks. They could be useful if they decide to follow the path of more than 100,000 American farmers affected by cancer and other diseases caused by the use of glyphosate under false warnings of low toxicity.
It is not surprising that the CNA defends glyphosate and the use of poisons despite much evidence about its risks and despite the health of agricultural workers and consumers. Many of its partners, landowners and businessmen, seldom set foot in the field: those fumigated with glyphosate and other pesticides are its laborers and laborers, whom they consider disposable, abundant and replaceable material. In addition, Bayer-Monsanto and other transnational agrotoxic and transgenic seeds are represented on its board, through the Mexican Association of Seedbeds, which are the ones that earn the most from the sale of pesticides, they control almost the entire market in Mexico and the world.
The argument that without glyphosate Mexico's self-sufficiency will be affected is fallacious in many ways. To begin with, unfortunately there are many other pesticides on the market, also highly dangerous, as documented by Rapam, which should also be banned.
With the prohibition of pesticides and a change in the form of agricultural production, what will be most affected is not the food needs of the population in Mexico, which are mainly served from peasant production and on a smaller scale, but the profits of transnational companies that they dominate the sale of pesticides and seeds, the production of fodder for the large livestock industry and a few other export products. As Ana de Ita explains, these activities have become a juicy business for a few companies that produce for their own profits and cynically call it Mexico's self-sufficiency.
There are also peasants and small farmers who use glyphosate to weed, partly because they do not know the high risk they put their life, family and community. The change in these parcels is viable, possible and works in their favor. It requires information and solid support for the forms of peasant agriculture, without chemicals and from its own knowledge and forms of organization.
The health of all is at stake with opposing models of agrolimentation: peasant and local systems of healthy food, which affirm cultural diversity, employ many and take care of nature or industrial systems to continue increasing the profits of transnational corporations, to the cost of people's health and the environment.
By Silvia Ribeiro