WHO raises scare about genetically engineered crops

STAFF REPORT ISB: Environmentalists have sounded an alarm in Pakistan following a WHO report that the worlds most widely used Roundup herbicide to kill weeds “probably” causes cancer.

“It is a warning for countries like Pakistan where growers of genetically modified (GM) crops are being encouraged to use Roundup,” a researcher at the PARC observed.

Roundups active ingredient glyphosate that kills major weeds is identified as carcinogenic. Sri Lanka and several other countries banned the herbicide after more than 20,000 deaths from kidney failures were linked to it, according to the researcher.

However, the multinational company Monsanto, which has been promoting GM agriculture in Pakistan since 1998, and markets Roundup, contested the WHO report.

“It has been in the market for 40 years and its usage is thoroughly regulated,” said its head in Pakistan, Amir M. Mirza.

“We are contesting the report because the WHO did not take sufficient data into account.” His regulatory affairs officer Muhammad Asim told the media that WHO had re-classified five ingredients that possibly cause cancer in humans.

In its report, WHOs cancer agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), classified the active ingredient glyphosate in the herbicide as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

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