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NEC decides to lift ban on glyphosate


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  • Ban will be lifted on all crops except rice
  • Agriculture Ministry’s technical committee to submit recommendations to formally remove banvia a gazette notification
  • Plantation Industries Ministry, Planters’ Association of Ceylon not informed officially

By Charumini de Silva

The National Economic Council (NEC) has decided to lift the arbitrary ban imposed on glyphosate, a widely-used weedicide, in light of overwhelming scientific consensus that the substance is not harmful to human health.  

“The 10-member council unanimously approved that the ban imposed on glyphosate should be lifted as it has now been scientifically proven that the substance is not harmful to human health, while recognising the concerns raised by various industries, particularly the tea sector,” NEC Secretary General Prof. Lalith Samarakoon told Daily FT.  According to him, the ban will be lifted on all crops except for rice.

He said the decision had now been put across to the Agriculture Ministry to take the necessary steps to formally remove the ban imposed on glyphosate. 

“The Agriculture Ministry’s technical committee has to now submit the recommendations and gazette it,” Prof. Samarakoon pointed out.

The NEC meeting on 22 February chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena was also attended by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Ministers Sarath Amunugama, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Mangala Samaraweera, John Seneviratne, Sajith Premadasa, Duminda Dissanayake, Rauff Hakeem, Malik Samarawickrama, Faiszer Musthapha and Naveen Dissanayake. 

Presidential Secretary Austin Fernando, Prime Minister’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, NEC Secretary General Prof. Lalith Samarakoon, Treasury Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samarathunga, National Policies and Economic Affairs Ministry Secretary K.D.N. Ruwanchandra and Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy were the key officials present at the council meeting.  

Agriculture Minister Duminda Dissanayake confirmed that the ministry would grant permission to lift the ban on glyphosate for the plantation industry. 

He also reiterated that considering the recommendation of the technical committee at the Agriculture Ministry, steps would be taken to officially remove the ban imposed on glyphosate via a gazette notification in the near future.

Despite the subject being taken up at the inaugural NEC meeting, Plantation Industries Ministry Secretary J.A. Ranjith said the decision had not been officially informed to them thus far.

Correspondingly when contacted Planters’ Association of Ceylon Chairman Sunil Poholiyadde emphasised that they were oblivious and awaiting a response. 

“We have not been briefed by any authority officially. We are in the process of seeking clarification,” he added.

Dr. Coomaraswamy who was also present at the first NEC meeting said: “There are attempts being made to revive the plantation sector and I understand that the glyphosate ban might be lifted.”

He made these remarks addressing an AMCHAM meeting recently. “This will be a helpful move,” Dr. Coomaraswamy added. 

The most recent Risk Assessment for Glyphosate conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 2017 said the substance was not harmful to human health.

The US EPA human health review evaluated dietary, residential/non-occupational, aggregate, and occupational exposures. Additionally, the agency performed an in-depth review of the glyphosate cancer database, including data from epidemiological, animal carcinogenicity, and genotoxicity studies and found no conclusive links to any ill effects.

The EPA findings are among the latest in a substantial body of scientific evidence – including a 2017 health survey conducted by the US National Institute Health which shows that the glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans and poses no other meaningful risks to human health when the product is used according to the pesticide label.

The agency’s scientific findings are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by a number of other countries as well as the 2017 National Institute of Health Agricultural Health Survey.


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