Mexico lets Monsanto infest with high-risk substances

Mexico lets Monsanto infest with high-risk substances

The problem of pesticide regulation in Mexico allows transnational companies like Monsanto to sell pesticides with active ingredients considered highly dangerous by the International Network for Action Against Pesticides (PAN), civil organizations argue.

Brands like Faena, Faena Forte, Harness and Harness extra from Monsanto are sold without control and because the rules allow it, despite the fact that their formulas contain elements such as glyphosate, acetochlor, clopyrifos ethyl and alachlor, associated with endocrine and also carcinogenic diseases.

The use of chemical fertilizers has a privileged place in Mexico. In 2017, 69 percent of the total hectares planted in the country - 15 million 098 thousand 297 - made use of this type of technology. The sale of chemical products for the field, including pesticides, is carried out under few state controls that are respected by the companies, but which in turn ignore international recommendations on the toxicity of each of the active ingredients, environmentalists and scientists denounce . The weak regulation, which has allowed the passage of 183 assets considered "highly dangerous" and another 140 prohibited in other countries, privileges the large international companies that have the world oligopoly of pesticides and modified seeds. According to the Pesticides and Alternatives Action Network in Mexico (Rapam), in the world four companies control 75 percent of the global pesticide market: Dow Dupont, ChemChina, BASF and Bayer-Monsanto.

In Mexico, Bayer-Monsanto has 456 products registered in the Pesticide Sanitary Registry of the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris), despite the fact that some of its active ingredients - glyphosate, acetochlor, chlorpyrifos ethyl, alachlor - are They are prohibited in other countries as they are related to endocrine and carcinogenic diseases.

In this regard Rodrigo Ojeda, Legal Director of Monsanto, said in an interview with SinEmbargo that this company operates in compliance with the regulations of each country.

“Monsanto operates in different countries based on existing regulations. The truth is that yes, in certain countries there is specific regulation where it is established or stated that a certain agrochemical should not be used. Monsanto is always respectful of the laws of those countries. In the case of those countries where their analysis has been that certain pesticides do not cause harm, we, in accordance with the legal framework, continue to present our files to the authorities for the authorization of those products. If here in Mexico or in the United States the regulatory authorities determine with their own risk analysis and the scientific information presented to them is that the product is viable to be used by farmers, we proceed forward, "he explained.

The case of Glyphosate

Glyphosate is currently the most widely used herbicide worldwide. It was created by Monsanto under the Roundup brand and has been in the market since the 1990s.

According to the Rapam, in Mexico this active substance has a total of 110 authorized registrations in force in any of its uses. Most of the formulations are destined to crops of grains, vegetables, fruits, sugar cane, coffee, among others.

Its marketing is authorized for 45 companies, including Monsanto, which has 21 registrations with indeterminate validity that include authorizations for the control of weeds in agriculture, urban and industrial areas, the control of water lily, in communication routes, in gardening and in products destined for export.

The asset is part of the PAN list of highly dangerous pesticides and the list of group 2 of possible carcinogens of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO).

A study conducted by the International Pesticide Action Network (PAN) revealed that glyphosate is capable of causing acute poisoning, kidney, liver and intestinal damage, cancer, endocrine disruption, decreased fertility and damage to the fetus, neurological, hormonal alterations and alterations of the intestinal microbiome.

For its part, the company argues that “glyphosate inhibits an enzyme that is essential for plant growth, but is not found in humans or animals. Therefore, its risk to human health is really low ”. Likewise, it denies that the pesticide is a carcinogenic product and insists that there are more than 400 scientific studies that support it.

For its defense, Monsanto took up a 2015 study carried out by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), in which it was ruled out that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans, contrary to the IACR decision taken a few months earlier.

The study raised a new controversy that led the European Observatory of Corporations to carry out a comparative analysis of both investigations. The results highlighted that IARC had reviewed only public information and had held meetings open to observers that included industry and non-governmental organizations. On the contrary, EFSA, in addition to basing its research on public information, had taken up studies funded by the industry, provided by a group of experts led by Monsanto.

The trial against Glyphosate

On August 10, a United States court ordered Monsanto to pay $ 289 million to Dwayne Johnson, who suffers from a terminal type of cancer: non-Hodking lymphoma. The plaintiff alleged that the Roundup herbicide, which he sprayed during his work as a gardener in the benicia school district, was the cause of his illness.

María Colín, legal representative of Greenpeace, argued that these cases are a first legal reference of the possible damages caused by glyphosate that contravene the discourse that the company maintains until now.

“At a global level, what companies say is that there is too much scientific evidence to say that health effects from glyphosate cannot be linked, that's the way they conduct themselves. The reality is that the most recent scientific articles consider that glyphosate can also be linked with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which is a type of leukemia in the blood and with other effects on pollinators. And it also supports the IARC evidence that it is a probable carcinogen in humans, although the evidence proves the damage in animals. The cases that have been prosecuted have reached the conclusion that companies such as Monsanto-Bayer have acted maliciously by hiding information they already had, "he added.

Other Monsanto products

In the Cofepris Sanitary Registry of Pesticides, Plant Nutrients and MRLs, Monsanto has 38 products registered, 21 of them have glyphosate as an active ingredient; five are based on alachlor (in one case combined with atrazine) the active substance of three more is acetochlor and another two are based on chlorpyrifos ethyl.

All of these substances are considered highly dangerous by the PAN and all are banned in at least one country. The Rapam data attribute 48 bans to alachlor, 28 to acetochlor, two to chlorpyrifos ethyl and one to glyphosate. For its part, Greenpeace data attributes 6 cancellations to glyphosate (France, Holland, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Denmark and Belgium.

In Monsanto's catalog of herbicide crop protection products there are different brands: Defensa, Faena, Faena Fuerte, Harness, Harness Xtra, Roundup and Rival. Of this group, at least four have high concentrations of glyphosate (Faena, Roundup, Faena Forte and Rival).

Faena is the best known in all of Mexico and, according to the data provided by its legal representative, it represents around 23 percent of the total glyphosate sales in the country. For its acquisition there is a regional list, however, its purchase can be made through digital platforms such as Mercado Libre in which it has a cost from 123 pesos.

By Karen Castillo

Source: Other Worlds Chiapas

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