GEORGE TOWN: Sri Lanka has banned the use of the herbicide glyphosate, and Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) wants Malaysia to follow suit.
CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris decried the use of the chemical and called on the Malaysian Government to ban it.
Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum, systemic herbicide commonly used as weedkiller in farms and plantations. CAP revealed that about 172 herbicide brands in Malaysia contain glyphosate.
Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena banned the chemical on Friday due to increased incidences of chronic kidney diseases associated with glyphosate.
Countries including the Netherlands, France, Brazil, Russia and Mexico have also banned the chemical.
Consumer groups in many countries have taken the cue and are calling for their governments to impose similar bans.
According to CAP, glyphosate can cause serious harm to human health, wildlife and environment.
Health hazards cited are infertility, birth defects and difficulties with purifying drinking water.
The Malaysia Palm Oil Board reported in 2010 that the total volume of glyphosate herbicides used in Malaysia was about 15 million litres a year.
Mohamed Idris praised Sri Lanka’s decision to deny requests by suppliers to sell off remaining stock, saying such actions were firm and necessary.
When asked for alternatives to glyphosate, Mohamed Idris said it was for the Government and the farmers to find substitutes.
“All chemicals are dangerous. People should get out of modern chemical-based agriculture and return to traditional methods,” Mohamed Idris said.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently reported that glyphosate is classified as “probably carcinogenic” to humans.
The classification is based on limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.