The use of Glyphosate [N-(Phosphonomethyl)glycine] in agriculture as a weedicide has become a subject of contention with the imposing and the recent revoking of the ban on this toxic agrochemical by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL). The GoSL banned the use of Glyphosate in all agricultural practices in the country by a gazette notification issued on 23, October 2015 subsequent to the lobbying by intelligentsia as well as the commonalty in the country that the chemical constituents of the weed killer can cause Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
On the contrary, the ban was countermanded by an extraordinary gazette notification issued by the Registrar of Pesticides on 11, July 2018 amidst controversy following the recommendation of the experts of the Pesticides Technical and Advisory Committee that Glyphosate is not directly linked to CKD.
According to the sources of the Registrar of Pesticides, the revoking of ban on Glyphosate is not applicable for other crops but valid only for tea and rubber cultivations as the plantation industry has faced a huge loss of crop due to the invasion of weeds. Nevertheless, the gazette neither mentions of any type of prohibition on the use of Glyphosate for other crops nor it mentions that the ban is exclusively lifted for the tea and rubber industries. According to the gazette, revoking of the ban on Glyphosate is applicable for all crops in general which led to tirades of decries regarding this decision of GoSL.
Howbeit, some ministers of the Government publicly state that the ban on Glyphosate is not lifted while others confirm the lift of the ban. Several ministers in the government including Minister of Agriculture, Duminda Dissanayake stated that the ban on Glyphosate is not lifted which confused the public about the true stance of the GoSL on the ban of Glyphosate.
Meanwhile, issuing a communiqué, the Co- Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Rajitha Senaratna stated that the Registrar of the Pesticides is not vested with the authority to revoke the ban on Glyphosate regardless of the Cabinet decisions. The statement of the minister made the dissension among the members of the government more obvious with regard to the Glyphosate issue.
While different members of the Government hold contradictory points of view regarding the withdrawal of the ban on Glyphosate in agriculture, the GoSL has not yet been able to clearly promulgate its stance on the banning of the harmful agrochemical. This state of affairs has paved way for bafflement among the public whether the use of Glyphosate in agriculture is permitted or not.
Athuraliye Rathana Thera who is sternly campaigning for the banishment of the hazardous agrochemicals, took up the issue of lifting the ban on Glyphosate at the Parliament this week and placed an emphasis on an immediate declaration of the Government’s true standpoint of the banning of the controversial weed killer.
Banning Glyphosate was among the many election promises of Yahapalana regime and the lifting of the ban on the toxic agrochemical depicts the inability of the government to uphold its election promises. However, the use of this disease-causing weed killer is vetoed in many countries due to its deleterious impact on human health as well as the environment. It is high time that the GoSL follows suit other countries that have taken firm actions to ban the use of Glyphosate completely for all crops and to introduce less hazardous agrochemicals which are more human as well as environmental friendly in place of disease-causing toxic ones.