A group of environmental lawyers has petitioned the Supreme Court to
impose a six-month ban on the sale and use of glyphosate, which is
the basis for many herbicides, including the US agribusiness giant
Monsanto’s Roundup product.
A ban, if approved, would mean “we couldn’t do agriculture in
Argentina”, said Guillermo Cal, executive director of CASAFE,
Argentina’s association of fertiliser companies.
My, that’s rather apocalyptic!
And financially even worse:
Any ban on the use of glyphosate could have dire fiscal consequences:
the already cash-strapped Argentine government relies heavily on tariffs
levied on agricultural exports. It is expected to rake in some $5bn this
year, although that is about half the previous year’s level after a
longrunning conflict with farmers, a bitter drought and lower prices
have slashed production of the country’s main cash crop, soya.
Or is it?
Mr Carrasco acknowledged there were “too many economic interests at
stake” to ban glyphosate outright. But, he said, officials could start
ring-fencing the problem by enforcing effective controls where crops
That would be a start.
Working on other methods of weed and insect control would be even better.
The Financial Times does mention that there are Argentine studies that support
Dr. Carrasco’s as-yet-unpublished study:
Research by other Argentine scientists and evidence from local campaigners
has indicated a high incidence of birth defects and cancers in people
living near crop-spraying areas. One study conducted by a doctor, Rodolfo
Páramo, in the northern farming province of Santa Fé reported 12
malformations per 250 births, well above the normal rate.
Yet the Financial Times did not mention the numerous scientific
studies in other countries that show similar results.
A study released by an Argentine scientist earlier this year reports that
glyphosate, patented by Monsanto under the name “Round Up,” causes birth
defects when applied in doses much lower than what is commonly used in
The study was directed by a leading embryologist, Dr. Andres Carrasco,
a professor and researcher at the University of Buenos Aires. In his
office in the nation’s top medical school, Dr. Carrasco shows me the
results of the study, pulling out photos of birth defects in the embryos
of frog amphibians exposed to glyphosate. The frog embryos grown in petri
dishes in the photos looked like something from a futuristic horror
film, creatures with visible defects—one eye the size of the head,
spinal cord deformations, and kidneys that are not fully developed.
“We injected the amphibian embryo cells with glyphosate diluted to
a concentration 1,500 times [less] than what is used commercially
and we allowed the amphibians to grow in strictly controlled
conditions.” Dr. Carrasco reports that the embryos survived from a
fertilized egg state until the tadpole stage, but developed obvious
defects which would compromise their ability to live in their normal