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Monsanto’s flagship pesticide linked to cancer and antibiotic resistance

PAN International calls for strong response!  2nd April 2015

The International Agency for Research and Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

The IARC concluded that there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. The decision was made after 17 scientists met on March 20 at the IARC to assess the carcinogenicity of the herbicide glyphosate and 4 organophosphate pesticides.

“Monsanto’s weed-killer glyphosate is wreaking havoc with the health of children and rural communities in Argentina,” said Javier Souza, chair of Pesticide Action Network International. “Thousands of people suffer from glyphosate poisoning related illnesses and the cancer rates are two to four times higher than the national average”. Souza from Argentina, referred to his country’s 24 million hectares of crops, mostly soybeans, genetically engineered (GE) to resist glyphosate. In 2014, 79 million gallons of glyphosate were applied on soybeans and other crops in Argentina. Ahead of Argentina is Brazil with 40 million hectares of GE crops, mostly soybeans. Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia also grow millions of hectares with GE soy resistant to glyphosate.

Monsanto is the creator of its brand-name herbicide Roundup, containing the active ingredient glyphosate, and of GE soybean, corn, and cotton resistant to withstand applications of glyphosate. Glyphosate has become the most heavily used herbicide in the world, bringing billions of dollars in profits to the giant biotech company. In the United States, about 94% soybeans, 89% corn, 91% cotton are GE resistant to glyphosate.

“Glyphosate and other herbicides have been linked to antibiotic resistance,” said Judy Hatcher, vice-chair of PAN International. “The combination of carcinogenicity and antibiotic resistance by Monsanto’s flagship pesticide are two loud wake-up calls for the global community. Policymakers as a matter of highest priority, should keep the next wave of genetically engineered seeds – containing glyphosate and other old, hazardous chemicals – off the market” she added.

Researchers in New Zealand have found that formulations of herbicides containing glyphosate, 2,4-D, and dicamba can lead to development of antibiotic resistance in disease-causing bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella.

“In Asia glyphosate is widely used and the link with carcinogenicity and antibiotic resistance is an area of concern for farmers and agricultural workers who are exposed” said Sarojeni Rengam from PAN Asia Pacific.

“Experience in Africa and other parts of the world show that toxic agrochemicals affect the poorest of the poor, and this situation cannot go on as usual” said Abou Thiam from PAN Africa.

“Hazardous pesticides are part of an obsolete technology and don’t belong in agriculture” added Keith Tyrell from PAN UK. Carina Weber from PAN Germany remarked “This is an opportunity for policymakers to exercise their political will and move the world forward towards sustainable, healthy agriculture, free from toxins”.

As a result of the new research, PAN International calls on governments and policymakers to take first emergency measures to curtail and stop the use of herbicide formulations containing glyphosate applied to genetically engineered seeds and crops. And the network urges governments to develop action plans within the next 60 days to layout how they will address the concerns highlighted in recent studies. Furthermore, PAN International urges governments to stop the release and marketing of highly hazardous pesticides, and establish policies to promote safer agricultural practices that protect workers, consumers, the environment, and provides a dignified living to farmers.


Pesticide Action Network (PAN) is a network of over 600 participating nongovernmental organizations, institutions and individuals in over 90 countries working to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives.

Javier Souza, Chair of PAN International & PAN Latin America:, 0054 11 36171782
Paul Towers, PAN North America:, cell: +1 916 216 1082
Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific:, +6 04 657 0271
Abou Thiam, PAN Africa:, +221 338254914
Keith Tyrell, PAN UK:, +44 7588 706224
Susan Haffmans, PAN Germany:, +49 40 3991910 25

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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:

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Food Matters Aotearoa Conference

GEFreeFoodMatters-logoImportant conference on the future of food and farming in New Zealand

Find out more at:

14-15 FEBRUARY 2015

Register now to hear a range of top International and National speakers who are experts in their fields – modern agriculture; agroecology; food safety; policy development; ecosystem sustainability and seed biodiversity – about the challenges we face and solutions

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