Report on glufosinate released in a national webinar, highlights long-term adverse effect on progeny, workers and environment

Press Release | 24th December, 2022

The new report titled 'Glufosinate Ammonium- An Overview’ released in a national webinar today presents concerns over adverse effects on Humans, animals and environment. The report presents information related to the regulation, use, toxicity, health effects and adverse effects on the environment. Glufosinate is a broad-spectrum herbicide acknowledged to have adverse effects on nervous system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, and on developing fetuses in animals. Glufosinate ammonium does not have known antidotes, making it difficult for saving lives of individuals who are poisoned. It is banned in 29 countries. Speakers in the webinar raised concerns about possible adverse effects in humans.

Pesticide Action Network India, a non-profit national organization, released its latest report titled ‘Glufosinate Ammonium- An Overview’in a national webinar organized today. The webinar titled ‘Glufosinate Ammonium In India: Impact On Work And Health Of Women Agriculturists’ discussed the adverse effects of the use of herbicides in general and highlighted possible adverse effects and impacts on rural farm workforce especially women. Dr. Sudhya Chepyala, Dr. Narasimha Reddy, Ms. Roshni Sathyan, and Ms. Heera Kurian presented sessions. Speakers shared concerns over reproductive toxicity caused by herbicides as well as its social implications and pointed out that women in society are affected more than men.

Releasing the report on Glufosinate Ammonium (GA), the authors highlighted its unauthorized use in India, as brought by a 2016 Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). In addition, GA use in India is expected to increase piggyback on herbicide-tolerant crops. The Biosafety and bioefficacy of GA usage are not publicly validated. Interestingly, Indian regulators who approved Glufosinate-tolerant GM Mustard forbid farmers from using it, whenever this transgene trait gets commercial approval. Literature informs us that GA can result in inhalational and contact exposures causing widespread poisoning. GA can impact the nervous system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, and developing fetus in animals. This is why it is banned in 29 countries. A total of 6 plants/ weeds were found to be resistant to GA, including Amaranth Palmeri.

Dr. Narasimha Reddy, Co-author of the report and a public policy expert, says “introduction of glufosinate tolerant crops will pave way for its wider use and increases dependency on this herbicide. There is no scientifically justified, agronomically established explanation of why GA-tolerant crops are being introduced in India. Elsewhere there is at least a modicum of rationale that GA is a replacement given weed resistance to glyphosate”. Small and marginal farmers do not have access to personal protection equipment (PPE). The Indian government is neglecting to acknowledge this reality. Because no antidote is available to glufosinate, poisoned individuals can have a very uncertain future, he added.

 

Dr. Sudha Chepyala, an integrative Medicine physician working with goals of Preventive, Regenerative, and Functional medicine practicing in the US and India, was the key speaker in the webinar. She gave a detailed account of potential adverse effects on humans. She highlighted in her presentation that glufosinate is a deadly chemical that is able to trigger a number of acute and chronic health issues in human beings and animals. Evidence suggests a decrease in male fertility and, in particular, in sperm quality upon exposure to GA. The risk of cancer and adverse effects on reproduction and development are the major concerns based on the evidence from animal studies. She added that various environmental factors are playing a key role in worsening adverse effects of glufosinate and other weedicides, which is not studied adequately.

GA is a neurotoxin and it irreversibly inhibits glutamine synthetase, which leads to intracellular accumulation of ammonia; hyperammonemia is considered one of the main mechanisms of glufosinate ammonium toxicity in humans. It is a highly hazardous herbicide, owing to the fact that it can cause reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, and cardiovascular effects.

‘GA has the intrinsic potential of causing damage to developing foetuses, exposure to women during childhood, adolescence, and the childbearing period is considered as most dangerous. GA can adversely affect the growth and development of offspring in the womb of the mother and later stages as well.

Children, impacted by reproductive toxicity, will be the lifelong burden of mothers. Infertility caused by reproductive toxicity can lead to the castigation of wives, then husbands, in rural India’, said Ms. Roshni Sathyan while presenting a session on the reproductive toxicity of herbicides.

GA is used as a chemical method to control weeds. In India, women’s labor livelihoods are heavily dependent on work to de-weed agricultural fields. Their access to work is severely affected by increased usage of chemicals such as GA. The introduction of glufosinate tolerant crops, such as GM Mustard, in India, will open the path for wider use of GA. ‘GA has the potential to burden women agriculturists with income loss, livelihood displacement, the burden of deformed children and on their physical abilities’, as noted by Ms. Heera Kurian while presenting a session on ‘Social implications of reproductive toxicity on women’.

The webinar stressed the use of technology that does not harm the environment, ensuring farmer and worker safety as well as safe food production. Permitting transgenic, GA-tolerant crops is a sure method of enabling monopoly in the seed and agrochemical sector at the cost of farmers, farm labor, and people in India as well as the environment. India needs to ban GA given its potential impact on the health and wealth of rural India.

Link to the report: CLICK HERE

For Details Contact:

Dr. Narasimha Reddy, Phone : +91 90102 05742

A. D. Dileep Kumar, Phone : +91 94473 40748

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