Monsanto’s use of a toxic pesticide, glyphosate, has been linked to rampant kidney disease in farmers and, according to a Vice News article, the death toll “has reached the tens of thousands.” Glyphosate, commonly known as RoundUp, is a weed killer that is made and used by Monsanto that “can become highly toxic to one’s kidneys when mixed with ‘hard water’” wrote Neha Shastry of Vice News.
TruthOut published an article in February 2016 that said “as many as 40,000 Sri Lankan rice farmers and up to 37 percent of the population in villages” in Sri Lanka are “slowly and painfully dying” from chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu). This article, written by Armin Rosencranz, Ashrutha Rai, and Gaurav Bhawnani, cites research from California State University, Long Beach that is “highly supportive” of the hypothesis that there is a correlation between CKDu and the use of glyphosate. Christina Sarich of NaturalSociety wrote of a recent study that shows that Sri Lankan farmers “exposed to glyphosate through drinking water are 5 times more likely to develop chronic kidney failure than those who don’t drink herbicide-polluted water.” The findings of that study also prove there is a strong relationship between CKDu and exposure to RoundUp. Monsanto is denying all accusations that RoundUp causes CKDu and they told Vice News that glyphosate did not “cause renal injury in long term animal studies.” Even with Monsanto’s claim that exposure to glyphosate doesn’t cause any renal injury in animals that does not absolve them of RoundUp’s strong relationship to CKDu in the thousands of Sri Lankan farmers.
Corporate media coverage on Monsanto’s unintentional poisoning of farmers is hard to find. As of March 22, 2016 there is only one article acknowledging RoundUp’s potential dangers but it fails to acknowledge the thousands of people dying from CKDu caused by prolonged exposure. The article, “Monsanto, RoundUp and Junk Science”, and can be found on the Huffington Post’s Science page. This article explores concerns surrounding the use of the pesticide, stating that “there are clearly new safety concerns,” but it doesn’t get deeper than that. Besides that singular article, all information exposing the thousands of casualties caused by a product Monsanto defends as being perfectly safe comes from independent news sources.
Armin Rosencranz, Ashrutha Rai, and Gaurav Bhawnani, “Monsanto’s Pesticide Is Top Suspect Behind Mysterious Kidney Disease,” TruthOut, February 20, 2016, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34899-monsanto-s-pesticide-is-top-suspect-behind-mysterious-kidney-disease.
Christina Sarich, “Newly Released: Study Confirms Chronic Kidney Failure 5 Times Higher in Glyphosate-Ridden Areas,” Natural Society, March 5, 2015, http://naturalsociety.com/chronic-kidney-failure-5-times-higher-glyphosate-areas/.
Neha Shastry, “Monsanto’s Herbicide Might Be Killing Farmers,” Vice News, March 5, 2014, https://news.vice.com/article/monsanto-s-herbicide-might-be-killing-farmers.
Student Researcher: Rose Chevalier (University of Vermont)
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