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Daily News Blog

21
Apr

Health Canada Mulls Label Changes to Monsanto’s Roundup and other Glyphosate Products

(Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2015) Last week, Health Canada opened public comments on its reevaluation decision for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. The agency chose to continue allowance of the herbicide, but include some changes to the label of glyphosate-containing products. The decision comes shortly after the International Agency for Research on Cancer determined that the chemical is a human carcinogen based on laboratory animal test data,  and a recent study revealed that glyphosate accelerates antibiotic resistance.

Health Canada’s label changes include the following:

  • A requirement for a statement indicating to apply only when the potential for drift to residential or populated areas is minimal. This includes houses, cottages, schools and recreational areas
  • A restricted entry interval (REI) of 12 hours for agricultural uses to better protect agricultural workers;
  • New environmental hazard statements to inform users that, at high enough doses, it can be toxic to non-target species;
  • Recommended spray buffer zones to protect non-target terrestrial and aquatic habitats from unintended exposure; and,
  • Precautionary statements to reduce the potential for run off of glyphosate to adjacent aquatic habitats, particularly when heavy rain is forecasted. This includes a recommendation to keep a strip of vegetation between the treatment area and the edge of a water body to reduce runoff of glyphosate to aquatic areas.

Although these changes are a small step in the right direction, in the face of readily available alternative products and practices that do not require Roundup or other toxic herbicides, allowing glyphosate to remain on the market will continue to put people and the environment at risk. As both Health Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is aware, label language is often neglected by homeowners and even trained professionals, as a recent mistake at a Utah cemetery prominently shows.

EPA is also in the process of reviewing glyphosate, which it is doing in collaboration with Health Canada. Thus, Health Canada’s proposal may indicate  the action that EPA will take on the chemical.

In addition to its designation as a probable carcinogen and links to antibiotic resistance, glyphosate has been associated with an increased risk of birth defects, and studies have shown that the “inert” ingredient used in formulated Roundup, polyethoxylated tallowamine (POEA), can kill human embroyonic, placental, and umbilical cord cells. Glyphosate has been implicated in an epidemic of kidney disease in Sri Lanka and Central American farmers and farm workers. The chemical has been shown to have significant impacts on the environment, as a 2012 study associated Roundup with stress-included alterations in frog morphology.

Glyphosate’s use in genetically engineered (GE) agriculture has been well documented to cause resistance in target weed species. According to the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, 236 weed species throughout the world have been shown to exhibit resistance to glyphosate-based herbicides. Moreover, the use of herbicides like glyphosate in agriculture contributes to erosion by creating permanently bare soil, resulting in the release of older, even more toxic chemicals like DDT stored in sediment.

Preventing pollution at the source is the only way to ensure that health will be protected. Organic landscape management is an effective alternative to the use of risky products like Roundup. By learning how to read what your weeds are telling you about your soil, and focusing on proper cultural practices like mowing your lawn high (over 3 inches), aeration, overseeding, and correcting nutrient imbalances based on soil test results, you can eliminate the need to even least-toxic pesticide products. In fact, 100s of towns in the U.S. and Canada and a number of Canadian provinces have embraced a similar approach. Beyond Pesticides encourages concerned residents to sign the petition to EPA to stop glyphosate use now, before the agency renews glyphosate’s registration, as Health Canada has done.

Source: Health Canada

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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