A plea is being made to the South African government by various local livestock producers in the Western Cape to ban the use of a herbicide called glyphosate that is believed to be linked to some forms of cancer and other diseases.
Western Cape livestock producers such as Farmer Angus are concerned that this harmful herbicide could cause their livestock to develop diseases and could even be dangerous to humans.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a report in 2015 that described glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen”, and the uncertainty of the safety of using this herbicide has caused uproar in the industry.
More recently, a study done at the University of Washington in the USA found a direct link between this herbicide and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a cancer that affects the immune system.
Last week the city of Miami in the USA announced its ban on glyphosate, while the Indian State of Kerala announced a ban on the herbicide in February and France in January. A number of governments around the globe have already either placed restrictions on this herbicide or issued statements of their intentions to ban the harmful chemical.
Angus McIntosh of Farmer Angus told Bizcommunity, “With glyphosate receiving so much attention around the world, I want to know why our government isn’t doing anything about it? South Africa is the only country in the entire world where the population’s staple diet, that being maize, is genetically modified. These maize crops are just one of the many crops including wheat, soya, cotton, vegetables, wine, fruit, nuts and sugarcane, that are being sprayed with glyphosate and eventually ending up in our food and water sources.”
Glyphosate is currently used in all agricultural sectors across South Africa, with no information on food packaging mentioning this.
“When South Africa first began farming with GM crops in 1997, it was without the public’s permission or knowledge. Today, there is still no mention of glyphosate content on any packaging either. People don’t know what they are eating. Essentially they are being forced to eat genetically-modified food, laced with poison that no-one actually knows the long-term effects of. For me, the most shocking find was its presence in mother’s breast milk and babies’ nappies,” says McIntosh.
During the germination period of crops, the herbicide is sprayed to keep the weeds at bay and is applied again one to two weeks before harvest to speed up the drying process that takes place once crops die. Through these processes, glyphosate is absorbed by the plants and it cannot be removed by rinsing them.