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‘‘Glyphosate linked to kidney disease’’ -Prof. Channa Jayasumana

2018-03-29 00:00:54
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Prof. Channa Jayasumana, a leading academic who has done extensive research into the kidney disease in Rajarata, speaks about Glyphosate and its impact on the spread of the disease. Also, he compares the disease pattern in Sri Lanka and India. Excerpts of the interview: 

  • Describes how international scientist research corroborates his finding  
  • Throws light on disease pattern in India and Sri Lanka

 Q  How do you view the move to ban the use of weedicide called ‘Glyphosate? 
It is an unwise proposal. The ban on Glyphosate should not be lifted due to any reason.  

 Q  How do you support your argument that this particular agro-chemical was responsible for kidney disorders?
I have to emphasise Glyphosate is linked to disease but it is not the sole cause. For the first time in 2013, we produce epidemiological evidences to show glyphosate 

is associated with chronic kidney disease in agricultural communities. Our finding shows farmers who used glyphosate and paraquat (another weedicide which was banned in 2010) are prone to the disease five times more than those who are exposed to it. Then we found groundwater and food items contaminated with Glyphosate 

and residues. Thirdly, we detected glyphosate residues in these patients’ biological samples. Very recently, we found specific lesion in biopsy samples of these particular kidney patients. 

Glyphosate has been identified as one of the chemical, which produces such a lesion. In addition a recently published human study from China shows glyphosate causing renal damage. Chinese scientists selected 526 workers who were occupationally exposed to glyphosate from 5 glyphosate-producing factories as cases; and another 442 administrative staffs who were not exposed to glyphosate were selected as controls. The overall rates of abnormal renal function in the case group were 16.2% while it was 4.8% in controls. This is a very strong study to support our argument. In another study done by UK and France scientists, it has been shown that glyphosate based herbicide produces renal lesion in rats, which are similar to the lesions in Sri Lankan kidney patients when exposed through drinking water. So what else you need to say this chemical is linked to disease?  

I have to emphasise Glyphosate is linked to disease but it is not the sole cause. In 2013, we produce epidemiological evidences to show glyphosate is associated with chronic kidney disease in agricultural communities

 Q  There is an argument that glyphosate ban is a reason for government’s poor performance in the recent local election. What is your opinion?
It is nonsense and a very poor argument. There are hundreds of reasons for governments’ defeat. It is nothing to do with glyphosate. If this is the reason, why was the government defeated in Maharagama (Colombo suburb)? Are voters of Maharagama using Glyphosate?  

 Q  You recently had an academic involvement in India. How do you see the disease pattern there?
This is very interesting. For the last 10-15 years, we compared the disease in the Central American region and Sri Lanka. There were some recent reports from India saying that the similar disease is spread across four Indian states - Andra Pradesh, Telungana, Odisha and Gujarat. This was found among sugar-cane and rice farmers and vegetable growers. I visited the affected areas there and had a conference in Chandigarh in Panjab. It was at the 37th annual conference of Indian society of toxicology. I had the opportunity to meet different doctors and investigators working in different fields of medicine, particularly the toxicologists.

They are of the opinion that this disease is basically due to certain toxins. I exchanged ideas with those doctors and investigators. The clinical picture is similar with patients of north central province of Sri Lanka. I did a few field visits. The remarkable thing is that the environment, soil and climate are similar to the disease endemic region in Sri Lanka, similar to which were found in Andra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha. The unofficial report said the death toll in India is very high. It may be exceeding the death toll in Sri Lanka.   

One thing is that. The health system is well developed in Sri Lanka compared to India. Any death due to kidney disease is reported to the health system in our setup. In India, this system does not exist. In the rural areas, this chronic disease is under-reported. I believe the disease might have begun to spread in India in 1990s. Yet, it was not reported till the last couple of years.

 Q  Is it due to high population in India?
One thing is that. The health system is well developed in Sri Lanka compared to India. Any death due to kidney disease is reported to the health system in our setup. In India, this system does not exist. In the rural areas, this chronic disease is under-reported. I believe the disease might have begun to spread in India in 1990s. Yet, it was not reported till the last couple of years.   

 Q  How do you speak about the aetiology of this disease?
It is found in the river basins in India, where the rivers are very long. So the washout is also high. So, concentration of toxic agents downstream is very high compared with our rivers. The disease is found downstream in India close to the coastal areas in river basins.   

Different studies show that the toxic concentration in muddy soils is very high. People in such areas are heavily affected. Their hypothesis is that this is caused by toxins. They need more research to confirm. Their studies are not on par with our studies. We have studied it for the last two decades. They have just started it. I feel this is the same disease that is found in India.  

The remarkable thing is that the environment, soil and climate are similar to the disease endemic region in Sri Lanka, similar to which were found in Andra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha. The unofficial report said the death toll in India is very high. It may be exceeding the death toll in Sri Lanka

 Q  What are the kinds of scholarly exchanges you are planning to make?
I was able to interact with those attached to high medical research institutions in Gujarat, Telangana and Andra. They expressed their willingness to collaborate with us and get our expert views. Research-wise, we are well ahead of them.   

The former President of the Indian Institute of Pharmacology invited for an official collaboration between Rajarata University and their institution in Hyderabad. We have to establish whether it is the identical disease in India. According to available evidence, it is the same disease. However, we have to establish it in a credible manner. India has some improved laboratory and medical facilities in certain aspects. Collaborative studies will lead to minimize the spread of this disease and fight it in a common field.   

 Q  Is there any collaboration for the development of traditional medicine to treat the patients?
 India is a country which is abundant with Ayurvedic and complimentary medicine. They have different methods to treat kidney patients and issues associated with the urinary tracts. I think we can get their expertise in this regard. However this should be done with great care, as there are many pseudo healers.  

At a recent international symposium here, we discussed how Sinhala indigenous physicians and western medical practitioners treat patients suffering from chronic kidney diseases. Research findings show that certain indigenous practices can improve renal functions of these patients. In the western system, we can only control the disease.   

In Sri Lanka, we have very good indigenous medicinal practices. India also has a very good Ayurvedic practice. Close cooperation could bring in favourable results. Both could feed with each other in this respect. The western medicine has almost failed in the treatment of this chronic kidney disease

 Q  Have you identified any Sinhala indigenous physicians in Rajararata?
Yes, we presented a paper at a recent international conference on traditional medicine systems. An indigenous physician was there in the same panel. We presented some data. Actually, 56% of the patients who have been treated by this physicians have shown significant improvement in their blood and urine parameters.   

In Sri Lanka, we have very good indigenous medicinal practices. India also has a very good Ayurvedic practice. Close cooperation could bring in favourable results. Both could feed with each other in this respect. 

The western medicine has almost failed in the treatment of this chronic kidney disease. Though I am a professor in western medicine, I have to accept the truth.   

 

 

 


  Comments - 3

  • Thusitha Thursday, 29 March 2018 18:17

    Government should enhance Reserch and development on this regard - KDU not to lift the ban on Glyphospate

    Reply : 3       10

    Ajith Saturday, 31 March 2018 13:57

    Also ban Coffee it is carcinogenic "When coffee is roasted, the carcinogen 3,4 benzopyrene is formed. There have also been identified two other possible carcinogens found in coffee."

    Reply : 4       4

    Prasad Wednesday, 4 April 2018 18:40

    Tea industry is in a mess due to this ban. In subsititue of this, other chemicals have been used. which are even more harmful.

    Reply : 1       2

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