The expert discussion organised by the Strategic Enterprise Management Institute was attended by Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake, Health and Nutrition Minister Rajitha Senaratne, Science and Technology Minister Susil Premajayantha, Senior Advisor to the President Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera, Plantation Ministry Secretary B. Wijeratne, Chairman of the Strategic Enterprise Management Institute Ashoka Abhayagunawardena, Dr. Piyasena Abhayagunawardena, Dr. Ranil Senanayake, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Research Institute and many others in the field participated.
Rajitha against Glyphosate!
Addressing the gathering, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said as a health professional and dentist he was totally against the use of Glyphosate. He said it is an accepted norm that if any substance is found to be harmful to human health, then its use should immediately be stopped. He said he is of the opinion that until scientifically proved safe, he is in support of the ban.
Glyphosate contributes to climate change – Dr. Anil
Expressing his views, Dr. Anil Senanayake said by the use of Glyphosate as a weedicide in the hill country, it destroys the parasites in the soil and degrades that soil composition. This reduces the water retention capacity of the soil which in turn can have drastic environmental effects. He further pointed out that when Glyphosate the human body, it destroys the parasites within the human gut which also has a negative impact on humans. Hence, he said priority should be given to human health.
Disadvantages overrules gains – Athuraliye Rathana
Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera pointed out that the disadvantages in using Glyphosate far exceeded the advantages. He said the annual income from the tea industry is around1.5 billion and around 75% of this income is from the tea small holders. Rathana Thera pointed out that the previous government too had banned Glyphosate but had lifted the ban that same evening. He said it was saddening that the government was contemplating lifting the ban on Glyphosate while banning it was the only decision taken by the government for the benefit of the country.
My stand is only to protect the tea industry – Min. Navin
Meanwhile expressing his views at this discussion, Minister Navin Dissanayake said his only and primary concern was to safeguard the 150-year-old tea industry. He said the committee of ten members were appointed to come to a decision on the use of pesticides and weedicides, while 7 of them had approved the use of it and as such he would accept the report.
However, the minister said if the use of Glyphosate is in any way harmful to humans, he is willing to consider an alternative and is in favour of the ban.
What is the alternative?
Representatives of the Tea Research Institute as well as the Tea Small Holders Association wanted an alternative in the event Glyphosate is banned.
All University Professors, Doctors and other professionals were adamant that Glyphosate should be banned.
It was their view that many developed countries had already banned the use of Glyphosate and pointed out that focus should be on the use of biological alternatives to using harmful pesticides. They said this method is being used in developed countries and said everyone needs to make certain sacrifices for the welfare of mankind.