New Delhi, Dec 11: The RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagaran Manch on Saturday demanded a complete ban on the use of glyphosate, saying it is carcinogenic and damaging to consumer health, ecology and interests of farmers, farm workers and their livelihoods.
A memorandum with over two lakh signatures of people favouring a complete ban on the weedicide has been submitted to Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan said.
In a statement, the RSS body noted that the government, showing "its intent" to restrict the use of glyphosate, "admitting the possible ill-effect of this killer weedicide", had issued an order in July 2020 stating that no person shall use glyphosate except through pest control operators (PCOs).
"The SJM believes that these measures are meaningless and will be impossible to implement based on experience with inability to control other illegal practices like illegal HT crops with which glyphosate is presently being used," the outfit said.
"Given the meaningless order of the government and incapability to implement, it will result in increased damage to consumer health, farmer interests, farm workers livelihoods and ecology," it added.
The SJM said its delegation led by Mahajan informed the agriculture minister that though there is a restriction on the use of glyphosate other than for tea plantations and non-crop areas , the weedicide is "blatantly" being used for "illegally grown" Herbicide Tolerant (HT) cotton.
The minister was informed that this has been going on for years with the full knowledge of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee and the state governments, it said.
The delegation also told the minister that at present, some "miscreant seed companies" are trying to illegally spread herbicide tolerant BT cotton, on lakhs of acres of land, to promote the use of glyphosate.
"The minister gave a patient hearing to the delegation and assured that the matter would be taken up by his ministry," the SJM added.
The RSS body in its statement said glyphosate is "reportedly" being used both for weed control and to desiccate crops prior to harvesting, and there is a strong opposition to this as the weedicide and its adjuvants are absorbed by the plant and consumed by humans.
"Glyphosate is a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor and is linked with several serious illnesses, it said.
In 2015, after several years of study, the World Health Organization's IARC classified glyphosate as a "probable human carcinogen", it said.
"There are more than one lakh cases pending against Monsanto/Bayer company for damages by the users of its glyphosate based herbicide after they (the litigants) developed 10 different types of cancer, including non-Hodgkins Lymphoma," the RSS body added.
The SJM said Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh Telangana and several other states "have moved towards banning glyphosate due to their concerns for consumers, farmers and environment".
While Kerala, which is "a major tea growing state", has asked for a ban on glyphosate, another tea growing state West Bengal has restricted the use of glyphosate to only six tea growing districts, it added.