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Dr Meriel Watts – public talk on pesticides, health and the environment

Dr Meriel Watts spoke at a public meeting in Whangarei, New Zealand on the 4th of July. The talk covered pesticides, health and the environment: what’s happening globally, but not in New Zealand.

A recording of the talk is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4BOa_YZNIo.

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Orangi Kaupapa Trust recognizes positive contribution of Dr. Meriel Watts to quality of life in Aoteora

Auckland, January 2014.
Dr Meriel Watts, Coordinator of PAN Aotearoa New Zealand, was recently awarded $2,000 by the Orangi Kaupapa Trust.

This charitable New Zealand trust was established with the purpose of recognising and rewarding people whose work promote positive social change and benefit the quality of life in New Zealand, to say thank you to those high achieving people who receive little or no financial recognition for the work they do, yet without whom our society would be poorer.

The Trust is funded by people who have achieved success in the commercial world. They seek to reach those who are outstanding in non-commercial fields and who often gain little or no financial benefits from their endeavours.

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Alternatives to synthetic chemical herbicides

A new report from Dr Meriel Watts gives farmers, home gardeners and councils plenty of alternatives to glyphosate for weed management.

There are many synthetic chemical herbicides on the market, but they all have a range of adverse health and environmental effects. There are some herbicides derived from natural plant extracts that can kill or suppress weeds, such as extracts from pine oil and coconut oil. But care must be taken to ensure that formulations do not include toxic surfactants, solvents or other inert or adjuvant ingredients. The report presents alternatives to synthetic chemical herbicides and their elements.

The report can be downloaded from the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP) website here http://panap.net/2017/08/alternatives-synthetic-chemical-herbicides/

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Comprehensive New Review of Monsanto’s Glyphosate Underscores Urgent Need for Global Action

In a “state of the science” review released today, PAN International presents a large body of research documenting the adverse human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides and underscores the need for a global phase-out. Environmental and health advocates say the monograph on the world’s most widely used herbicide, commonly known by its original trade name Roundup, should serve as a wake up call for regulators, governments and users around the world.

Adverse human impacts detailed in the review include acute poisoning, kidney and liver damage, imbalances in the intestinal microbiome and intestinal functioning, cancer, genotoxicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive and developmental reduction, neurological damage, and immune system dysfunction.

Aggressive public relations and marketing by glyphosate’s developer, Monsanto, has resulted in the widespread perception that the chemical is ‘safe’. Registration processes continue to allow its use without raising concerns about its safety even as new data identifying adverse effects emerge.

This review dispels this myth of ‘safety’ and highlights the urgent need to re-examine the authorization of products containing glyphosate. A full chemical profile is presented, along with the regulatory status of products containing glyphosate in many countries and information on viable alternatives.

Glyphosate is sprayed on numerous crops and plantations, including about 80% of genetically engineered, or GE crops, as well as a pre-harvest desiccant, which results in high food residues. It is also widely used in home gardens and public places including roadsides, and semi-natural and natural habitats. Due to its widespread use residues are now detected in different types of foods, drinking water, wine and beer; and even in non-food products derived from GM cotton. The extent of human exposure is confirmed by the presence of glyphosate in human urine wherever it has been tested, principally in Europe and North America; it has also been found in breast milk in the USA.

The 2015 classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen resulted in widespread concern about its continued use, especially pre-harvest and in public places.

As a result, national bans and restrictions, and voluntary action by local authorities and retailers to curb use are rising dramatically. Sri Lanka was the first country to ban it completely, although the ban has recently been relaxed to allow use in tea plantations; Italy has banned pre-harvest use, and all use in public places and those frequented by children and the elderly; France is phasing out the use of pesticides in towns and public areas; and the European Union has extended approval for glyphosate for only 18 months instead of the usual 15 years. The research and evidence detailed in the review released today provides valuable scientific evidence for all communities wanting to follow these leads.

Environmental impacts detailed in the monograph are no less concerning, and include adverse effects on ecosystem functioning, pollination services, biological controls, soil fertility and crop health. Residues are widespread in the environment, including in rainwater, surface and ground waters, and the marine environment. Glyphosate can persist in some soils for up to 3 years; and there is some evidence of bioaccumulation.

Resistance to glyphosate is now recorded in 35 weed species and in 27 countries, mostly caused by the repeated use of glyphosate in GE crops, no-till agriculture, and amenity use.

The full Monograph review can be accessed here  glyphosate-monograph

For more information please contact:

Dr Meriel Watts, PAN New Zealand: +64-21-1807830; email: meriel@merielwatts.net

Keith Tyrell, PAN UK: +44 (0) 7588706224; email: keith@pan-uk.org

Paul Towers, PAN North America: 915-216-1082; email: paul@panna.org

Dr. Peter Clausing, PAN Germany: +49 176-7801 2705, email: peter.clausing@pan-germany.org

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Auckland spray is “probably carcinogenic”

Weed Management Advisory – Media Release – 22nd March 2015

The World Health Organisation’s cancer research arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has this week re-classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

The IARC reassessment published in the Journal Lancet Oncology is a wake- up call for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport says the Weed Management Advisory group (WMA).

Speaking from New York where she is one of the authors of UNEP’s forthcoming global assessment of gender and the environment, Dr Meriel Watts said that the use of this chemical on the roads, parks and sports fields in Auckland cannot now continue in the face of this latest damning assessment.

“For more than 25 years we have known of the evidence that glyphosate can cause cancer. But the regulators in New Zealand, and in other countries, have refused to heed it. As a result, countless numbers of children have been exposed to this chemical from roadside weed spraying as they walk to school, and in the parks and sports fields where they play” said Dr Watts.

“Children are particularly susceptible to carcinogens”.

Dr Watts, who is a scientist and author has published several authoritative books on the subject of pesticides and cancer including her 2013 “Poisoning Our Future: Children and Pesticides” which details the scientific evidence for the insidious effects of pesticides on children.

“Children are not little adults. The activities they do make them more prone to accumulate pesticides in their bodies; and their developing bodies make them more prone to the negative effects of these toxic chemicals like glyphosate. Yet, governments and industry overlook these impacts on children’s health despite the availability of safer alternatives.”

The WMA says that they have been documenting, detailing and promoting these safer alternatives for years and that Auckland Council and Auckland Transport must wake-up now, drop their baffling and disturbing opposition to nonchemical weed management, and stop using glyphosate.

“It is totally unacceptable to continue to expose people, and especially children, to glyphosate in light of this ruling from the IARC,” said Dr Watts. She emphasised that the IARC is a conservative scientific body “and if they say that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen we can be sure that it is”.

The WMA said they will be pursuing this urgently with Auckland Council, especially in view of the fact that the Long Term Plan budget proposes dropping nonchemical weed control in favour of increasing the use of pesticides.

Hana Blackmore said this flies in the face of all reason, Council’s own adopted policy, and the 2014 Human Rights Impact Assessment that confirms that continuing to expose Aucklanders to these toxic chemical sprays is a violation of their human rights.

“Both Auckland Council and Auckland Transport have a fundamental duty to keep people safe and protect their health and wellbeing. They need to take this latest UN Report and our human rights seriously, and eliminate these chemicals from our environment and our children’s lives” said Hana Blackmore.

The WMA will be presenting to Auckland Council before Easter.

Lancet article is here: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(15)70134-8/fulltext

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