by F. William Engdahl Last month three EU member states unexpectedly refused to go along with the decision of the EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to re-approve the world’s most widely used weed killing chemical, Glyphosate.
This dramatic and encouraging developments suggest that for the first time the power of GMO agrochemical giants like Monsanto and Syngenta, Dow and DuPont, BASF, Bayer could undergo a devastating defeat.
Were this to happen, it could well be the death knell for the misbegotten Rockefeller Foundation Genetic Manipulation project that has destroyed much of Western farmland and poisoned hundreds of millions of GMO fed farm animals and humans.
On March 4, Europe’s Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis indicated that his directorate, DG SANTE, is exploring the possibility of full transparency for industry studies on pesticides.
As we described in a previous writing, the EU Commission had recommended approval of another 15-year license for the controversial glyphosate based on the suspicious determination by the EU’s corrupt EFSA that there was no reason to believe glyphosate is a carcinogen.
EU’s corrupt EFSA
That determination, not backed up by open disclosure of the relevant health and safety studies EFSA claimed to rely on, went totally against the 2015 determination by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate, the weed-killer used in most every GMO plant worldwide and most other crops and even home gardens as well, was a “probable carcinogen.”
EFSA, basing its view on a report by Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), which in turn was given it by Monsanto and other agrochemical industry groups, said it is unlikely to pose a cancer risk. IARC used only data that was in the public domain, but the corrupt German BfR based its report on secret industry studies that it refused to release to IARC or to the public.
Currently the Monsanto and other agribusiness industry studies submitted to support regulatory authorizations of pesticides are kept secret under commercial confidentiality agreements with regulators. Now Andriukaitis, clearly feeling the pressure, has said that this needs to change. He stated, “We are ready to assess the legal environment,” as there are certain legal protections on industry data. But, he added, “It’s absolutely crystal clear, we need to change today’s situation. We see different options, but at the moment, yes, the idea is to change the rules, especially keeping in mind the overriding public interest.”
On initially announcing his plans to approve re-licensing of glyphosate based on the fraudulent November, 2015 EFSA determination claiming that it was no carcinogen, EU Commissioner Andriukaitis received an open letter of protest from 96 prominent scientists, including most of the scientists of the WHO’s 2015 IARC study.
1.5 million signed petitions from citizens
The letter declared that the basis of EFSA’s research was “not credible because it is not supported by the evidence. Accordingly, we urge you and the European Commission to disregard the flawed EFSA finding.” Among other “flaws” they argued, EFSA chose to completely dismiss seven positive animal studies showing an increase in cancerous tumors.
Not only did that letter of scientists seem to have encouraged a moral rethink by Commissioner Andriukaitis. He has also received a staggering 1.5 million signed petitions from citizens and organizations across the European Union demanding a ban on further use of the highly toxic glyphosate.
The totalitarian, usually arrogant EU Commission is answerable to no citizens as would be normal national politicians who can be kicked out by their voters. It’s known as the “democratic deficit” in official parlance. Brussels is an anti-democratic construction. That makes the rethink even more interesting, unless it is yet another deception by the influential agribusiness lobby.
It’s the glyphosate, stupid!
The true secret of the toxic danger of GMO crops in the animal and human food chain is gradually coming to light. It is becoming clearer that perhaps as much or even more a toxic danger for human and animal consumption of GMO corn, soy products and other GMO varieties, are the chemicals the GMO seeds are by contract agreement necessarily mated with.
No farmer anywhere in the world is allowed to buy Monsanto GMO “Roundup Ready” seeds without at the same time signing a binding contract to annually buy and use Monsanto glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer. In fact, the only trait that Monsanto Roundup Ready corn or soybeans are genetically modified for is to resist the toxic killing effect of Roundup while every living biological matter around not “glyphosate resistant” is killed.
Until a recent study by the courageous group of scientists under Professor Giles-Eric Seralini at France’s Caen University, few independent scientific long-term rat studies of Roundup or glyphosate were done. Monsanto and other GMO companies refused to disclose the adjuvant chemicals paired with Roundup or other herbicides claiming “business secrets.”
Since the WHO’s March 2015 IARC determination that glyphosate, alone and in combination with adjuvant toxic chemicals was a probable human carcinogen, the dam of secrecy around glyphosate has burst. To parody the line of then Presidential candidate Bill Clinton in a debate with opponent George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election race, “It’s the glyphosate, stupid!”
Now the veil of EU secrecy surrounding studies of agriculture herbicides and pesticides is beginning to crack. The public demand for full disclosure is spreading. On March 16, three European Parliament members formally demanded, under EU rules, in a Freedom of Information request to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), full disclosure of the secret Biotech industry studies that EFSA used in their controversial risk assessment on glyphosate.
The European Parliamentarians’ letter to Bernhard Url the head of EFSA is worth quoting in part:
Under the right of access to documents in the EU treaties, as enshrined in Regulation 1049/2001 and in the Aarhus Regulation, I am requesting documents which contain the following information:
There is an alarming scientific controversy between the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization (IARC) with regard to the carcinogenicity of glyphosate. In March 2015, IARC concluded that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen (category 2A) . However, later that same year, in November 2015, EFSA concluded that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and the evidence does not support classification with regard to its carcinogenic potential.”
Proper classification of glyphosate is crucial because it affects public health and entails important regulatory consequences. It is therefore vital to investigate why there are contradictory results in the EFSA and IARC assessments. To date EFSA has explained that its “evaluation considered a large body of evidence, including a number of studies not assessed by the IARC which is one of the reasons for reaching different conclusions” (EFSA news story, 12 November 2015 – http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal…). This means that the EFSA peer review is based on unpublished studies whose findings cannot yet be verified and subjected to independent scrutiny.
The need to achieve clarity in this regard is both urgent and evident. Glyphosate is used in around 750 pesticides commercialized by 91 companies across the globe. According to data published by IARC, glyphosate is registered in “over 130 countries as of 2010 and is probably the most heavily used herbicide in the world.”
By April 8 according to EU treaties and law, EFSA must reply. If they continue to stonewall, the controversy will now escalate in a major dimension. The GMO glyphosate genie is long out of the bottle.
Independent scientific test of glyphosate
Regardless of what reply the notoriously corrupt pro-GMO industry-influenced EFSA gives on April 8, the opposition to renewing the EU license for glyphosate grows daily. Beginning in May this year, Italy’s independent Ramazzini Institute in Bologna, Italy will begin preparing a long-term self-funded research study into the effects of glyphosate on rats and on modelling effects on the embryo of pregnant women. Dr Fiorella Belpoggi, director of the Institute’s Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Centre, which will carry out the study, said: “To settle disputes between IARC and EFSA, what we need is the results of independent research such as we are proposing to carry out. Meanwhile, the precautionary principle stands.” The institute issued a statement that, “In view of the uncertainty, one simply must apply the precautionary principle and strictly limit exposure to this substance so that we don’t damage our health.” Their study will begin in 2017 once all preparations are ready.
The Ramazzini Institute has been concerned with glyphosate effects for four years. They announced that scientists all over the world helped draw up a protocol which will enable one single experiment (thus minimizing the numbers of rats involved) to evaluate and identify the risks associated with glyphosate at doses comparable with what is currently allowed in humans both in the USA and in Europe.
Notably, a recent German study revealed alarming concentrations of glyphosate in a majority of the population there. An alarming three-quarters of the German population have been contaminated by glyphosate according to a study done by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The report analyzed glyphosate residue in urine and it concluded that, “75% of the target group displayed levels that were five times higher than the legal limit of drinking water. A third of the population even showed levels that were between ten and 42 times higher than what is normally permissible.”
All in all this is adding up to a refreshing popular revolt against the GMO death industry. Hooray for those of us who wish to live. The “killer Queens” of Monsanto, BASF, Syngenta and co. are in their greatest battle for survival on this one. Glyphosate may turn out to be the Achilles heel that kills GMO once and for all. That would be nice.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.