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Glyphosate ban hits Sri Lankan exports

Farmers have turned to unauthorised alternatives after the country banned glyphosate.


Alex   Black

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Alex   Black
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Glyphosate ban hits Sri Lankan exports

Tea farmers in Sri Lanka were calling on the Government to reauthorise glyphosate as soaring costs, falling production and residues from alternative chemicals hit exports to key markets.


The country banned glyphosate in 2015 after lobbyists blamed it for causing chronic kidney disease in workers.


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But industry chiefs disputed the link and said the ban has made working on tea plantations dangerous, increasing the amount of poisonous reptiles and insects on-farm.

German coalition to ban glyphosate

Glyphosate and genetically modified crops will be banned in Germany as part of a coalition agreement between Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), their sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria and the Social Democrats (SPD).

 

It was speculated disagreements over glyphosate could derail a coalition deal. But the parties have come to an agreement after four months of negotiations which included the banning of glyphosate, although no timescale was given for the ban.

 

It comes after German agriculture minister Christian Schmidt, of the CSU, voted in November to extend the approval of glyphosate in the EU for five years, causing a rift in the coalition.

 

Other agreements include a ban on genetically modified crops and a new animal welfare label to help ensure better conditions in industrial farming.

 

The deal will need to be approved by delegates at the CDU party conference on February 26 and SPD members next month.

Sri Lankan farmers warned the ban was losing them ground in key export markets, such as Japan.

 

MCPA


After losing glyphosate, farmers turned to alternative herbicide MCPA.

 

But residue levels of the chemical were in excess of the limits placed by Japan, a major importer of Ceylon tea.


Last year, Sri Lanka tea board chairman Rohan Pethiyagoda warned importing countries were going to put restrictions on imports as a result, with detections of excessive residues of unauthorised chemicals in exports to Japan and Germany in August.


“It is a very serious problem, but I cannot wake up this Government to think seriously about it. Goodness knows, we have tried,” he said in the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror.


The tea industry in Sri Lanka employs more than a million citizens.


The industry has also criticised the science behind the ban, with Roshan Rajadurai, chairman of the Planters’ Association of Ceylon, claiming there was no evidence to show the chemical had negative health ramifications for employees.


“In fact on the weedicide issue, there is totally unanimous agreement between the labour trade unions, the regional plantation companies and all stakeholders. This by itself ought to be sufficient evidence to immediately re-examine this policy,” he said.

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