GEORGE TOWN: Ban the sale of glyphosate-based weedkillers as it is hazardous to humans, wildlife and the environment, the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) urged.
CAP President SM Mohamed Idris said the country’s food security might be threatened, as nearly 200 herbicide products in Malaysia contain glyphosate.
“Last year, CAP brought up this issue to the Agriculture Ministry.
“However, in spite of the hazards associated with glyphosate, the ministry informed us that it would not be banned. The pesticide is widely used in our oil palm plantations.
“In view of its toxicity, CAP calls on the Agriculture Ministry to ban glyphosate-based herbicide.
“Agribusinesses should move away from the use of toxic chemicals and to move towards the use of safer organic production method,” he said.
Idris said the Pesticide Board had responded to CAP’s queries, saying glyphosate-based herbicides were allowed to be used because it had been used in Malaysia for the past 40 years, among others.
“The board also told us it was widely used by the plantation sector and small scale farmers, and that it has low toxicity compared with other herbicides and it is only a probable cancer-causing agent,” he said.
According to CAP, glyphosate is increasingly associated with health problems such as infertility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system, Parkinson’s disease and several forms of cancer.
It said in addition to health risks for humans, the usage of glyphosate can also lead to loss of biodiversity and difficulties in purifying drinking water.
“Presently Sri Lanka and El Salvador have banned glyphosate after a recent study linked glyphosate-based herbicide to fatal chronic kidney disease.
“It was reported the disease is the second leading cause of death among males in poor regions of Sri Lanka and El Salvador,” Idris said.
He said studies published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showed glyphosate became highly toxic when mixed with ‘hard’ water or heavy metals like arsenic or cadmium that naturally exists within the soil or added as fertiliser.
Glyphosate is a broad spectrum non-selective systemic herbicide.
It is used to eliminate essentially all annual and perennial plants including grasses, sedges, broad-leaved weeds and woody plants.
It can be used for a variety of crops, and in horticulture and landscaping.
As of December 2015, glyphosate has been banned or restricted in several countries in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia.