Herr-ERA and glyphosate

February 17, 2017

times of malta

Friday, February 17, 2017

Herr-ERA and glyphosate

Alfred E. Baldacchino

glyphosate-monographGlyphosate’s main aim is to kill. A Glyphosate monograph published by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) highlights its negative impacts.

Its residues are so widespread in foods, particularly those containing cereals or GM corn or soy-derived products. Detected in drinking water, wine and beer, and even in non-food products derived from GM cotton, it was also found in human urine in Europe (and Malta), and in the USA, where it was also found in breast milk.

Acute symptoms include abdominal pain, gastrointestinal infections, itchy or burning skin, skin infections, blisters, burning or weeping eyes, blurred vision, conjunctivitis, headaches, fever, rapid heartbeat, palpitations, raised blood pressure, dizziness, chest pains, numbness, insomnia, depression, debilitation, difficulty in breathing, respiratory infections, dry cough, sore throat, and unpleasant taste in the mouth. Doctors in Argentina reported vomiting, diarrhoea, respiratory problems and skin rashes in association with aerial spraying of glyphosate.

glyphosate-health-impactsOther effects include balance disorder, reduced cognitive capacity, seizures, impaired vision, smell, hearing and taste, drop in blood pressure, twitches and tics, muscle paralysis, peripheral neuropathy, loss of gross and fine motor skills, excessive sweating, and severe fatigue.

Exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides, even at very low doses, may result in reproductive problems including miscarriages, pre-term deliveries, low birth weights, and birth defects.

Other adverse effects are in sexual and other cell differentiation, bone metabolism, liver metabolism, reproduction, development and behaviour, and hormone-dependent diseases such as breast and prostate cancer (Gasnier et al. 2009).

monsanto-eat-with-mask-on1Laboratory studies show that very low levels of glyphosate, Roundup, POEA, and the metabolite AMPA all kill human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells. Roundup can kill testicular cells, reduce sperm numbers, increase abnormal sperm, and retard skeletal development.

Kidney and liver are the main target organs for glyphosate, as reported from laboratory studies, including cell damage and death, DNA damage and tumours. It is regarded as a Highly Hazardous Pesticide as defined by PAN (PAN International 2016b) and by FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Management as implemented by FAO in Mozambique (Come et al. 2013).

Emerging evidence shows that glyphosate can affect brain areas associated with Parkinson’s disease. Its exposure is also related with parkinsonian, Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism.

The placing on the market of glyphosate is the role of the minister responsible for the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority

Several studies indicate that glyphosate formulations may interfere with the immune system resulting in adverse respiratory effects including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune skin and mucous membrane effects.

Glyphosate has direct and indirect eco-toxicological effects especially the bexx-f'mater-deiunprecedented elimination of flora termed weeds, which are essential to most beneficial species. Direct and indirect effects have cascading impacts on the food chain and on biodiversity.

Earthworms and a number of beneficial insects useful in biological control, particularly predatory mites, carabid beetles, ladybirds, and green lacewings all dead bee 13are negatively effected by lady-birdglyphosate. At levels commonly found in agricultural settings, it impairs honeybees’ cognitive capacities affecting their navigation with potential long-term negative consequences for colony foraging success.

Its subtle effects cause disruption of the ecosystem that are of greatest concern, particularly effects on the agroecosystem.

lacewingThe Minister for the Environment was quoted (January 2017) saying that “the government would continue to oppose glyphosate in EU discussions, but could not implement a unilateral ban due to European single market rules.” Malta’s voting on related matters at EU discussions are all abstentions.

An EU Commission Fact sheet on glyphosate, dated 29 June 2016, says the authorisation of placing pesticides on the market is the role of the Member States. “Once an active substance has been approved or renewed at EU level, the safety evaluation of every pesticides formulation is done at a later stage by individual Members States before they grant, refuse or restrict its use at national level.”

The placing on the market of glyphosate is role of the minister responsible for the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) – the regulator. The environmental health impacts of glyphosate is the responsibility of the Minister for Health.

Herrera is only the operator. His main responsibility is the protection of biodiversity, as explained above. Herrera’s ERA should be in the front line on preventing glyphosate impacts on biodiversity to prevent biodiversity loss. ERA is also the Competent Authority for the EU Water Framework Directive, thus responsible for the vulnerable areas of Malta’s groundwater.


ERA should advice the Minster on Malta’s international responsibilities. It is not right that Herrera is left alone without any help from other authorities involved. Unless of course he has direction to walk it alone.

Malta Taghna lkoll is also clear on this. “The Environment and Resource Authority will be more proactive and strategic and will focus in a more specific way, on the conservation, protection and the amelioration of the environment and resources…” (p. 94);

“We will strengthen the monitoring of the market to see that products which will be on the market will not be of any health detriment, especially for children.” (p. 133); malta-taghna-lkolland

“We believe that Malta should be in the front line on environmental standards. Not because of obligation of any EU Directive, but because this is what our children deserve” (p 92).

Unless of course Herr-ERA and co believe that these are now past their best by date.

What a high price we are paying for such ‘cheap food’.



further reading:










Glyphosate & you

January 16, 2017

times of malta

‘EU’s permission to ban glyphosate is not needed’

Monday, January 16, 2017

 Sarah Carabott



Placing peticides on the market is the role of the member states. Photo: Shutterstock

Malta can still decide to ban products containing the weedkiller glyphosate and does not need any EU permission, environmentalist Alfred Baldacchino insists.

Mr Baldacchino, a former assistant director of the environment directorate at the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, was contacted after this newspaper was informed the government would only ban the use of glyphosate when such a move was ordered by the EU.

Only last summer, the Environment Ministry said the government had started the process to ban glyphosate. However, only products containing both the active substance glyphosate and the co-formulant POE-tallowamine are being banned. This, according to the ministry, includes Hopper Blu, Roundup, Roundup Max and Seccherba Respect.


The price society pays to have ‘cheap’ food. Is it worth it?

A study has just been released showing that Roundup caused liver disease in rats. The World Health Organisation’s cancer agency says glyphosate itself is a “probable carcinogen”. Mr Baldacchino said the government was right to vote last June against the use of glyphosate in line with the precautionary principle cited by environmental groups, which stated that potentially hazardous substances should not be used unless they were proven to be safe.

What more proof does the minister need? The minister should seek the advice of all stakeholders, not just commercial ones

“But it seems the Environment Minister’s spokeswoman wants the minister to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds.” “The EU does not authorise the placing on the market of pesticides. It is the role and responsibility of the member states to do so and the regulator in this area is the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority.”

“Malta can still decide to ban products containing glyphosate if it is not sure that the chemicals can have negative health and ecological impacts,” he insisted. Mr Baldacchino noted that it had already been proven that glyphosate killed bees, directly when they came in contact with the product and also by killing the flowers they fed on. Traces of the chemical had also been found in honey.

dead bee 16“What more proof does the minister need? The minister should seek the advice of all stakeholders, not just commercial ones, and this includes NGOs, technical experts, health experts, environmentalists and beekeepers,” he said.

The ministry, Mr Baldacchino continued, should also make clear what its intentions were and how it would enforce the ban. He wondered who would monitor what chemicals were used in herbicides and pesticides.

In a letter sent to the Environment Minister, the Clean Food Movement expressed dismay at the ministry’s watered-down position, saying the ban had turned out to be “no more than window dressing”.

“We are now more concerned than ever about the possible continued use of glyphosate on these islands,” the letter to the minister read.

Contacted in his capacity as chemical expert, Alfred Vella, the University rector, said herbicides containing more than one active ingredient did exist. POE-tallowamine was frequently present in herbicide compositions to serve as a “surfactant”, which was not designed to kill weeds but to make the delivery of the actual toxic chemical, such as glyphosate, more effective in its action. Still, at high enough concentration, POE tallowamine itself did have toxic properties in the case of certain organisms, he said.

Concern usually revolved around the stability and durability of herbicides and pesticides after being dispersed in the environment. If their stability was high and they remained on edible produce for far too long, it meant they could be consumed together with the vegetables containing them. There were also concerns about their solubility in water, as rainwater would be able to take chemicals down to the water table or nearby seawater.

On the other hand, chemicals that were not easily soluble in water were normally quite soluble in fatty matter, meaning they could be absorbed through the skin if contaminated harvested produce came in contact with animals or people.

killed by public funds

The price the ecosystem pays to have ‘cheap food. Is it worth it?

Prof. Vella acknowledged there was concern about pesticides and herbicides in general, however, he advised on looking at both sides of the coin. The use of pesticides allowed agriculture to produce food in much larger volumes and cheaper prices than without the chemicals.

While it was possible to live in a pesticide-free environment, society would likely have to pay a price. Apart from increased cost of foods, the decline in production could cut off some people’s access to meat, fruit and vegetables and that would also have health consequences, Prof. Vella pointed out.


Does the EU authorise the placing on the market of pesticides?

dead bee 8

who is paying for this if we may ask?

No, that’s the role of member states but active substances in the pesticides have to be approved at EU level. Once an active substance is approved at EU level, the safety evaluation of every pesticide formulation is done at a later stage by individual member states before they grant, refuse or restrict the use of pesticides formulations at national level.

In their authorisation decision, member states can therefore define the conditions for use of the product, for instance, restricted to certain crops, for professional use or for use in glass houses only.

*Information taken from the European Commission site.



further reading:







Il-bexx kimiku, is-saħħa tal-bniedem u tal-ambjent – 2

May 11, 2015


NewsBookit-Tlieta, 2 ta’ Ġunju, 2015

Il-bexx kimiku, is-saħħa tal-bniedem u tal-ambjent – 2

 Alfred E. Baldacchino

Kif rajna fl-ewwel parti, il-kimika glyphosate qed tintuża dejjem aktar kemm biex toqtol ħaxix li huwa meqjus ‘ħażin’ u kif jingħad ukoll biex ikun hawn aktar ikel biżżejjed għan-nies! Wieħed mill-prodotti li fih din il-kimika u li jintuża madwar id-dinja kollha huwa r-Roundup. Rajna wkoll studji internazzjonali li saru dwar l-impatt ta’ din il-kimika fuq is-saħħa tan-nies u tal-ambjent.

Fl-imsaren il-bniedem għandu miljuni u miljuni ta’ organiżmi mikroskopiċi ħajjin (batterja). Dawn jgħinu biex iżommu l-ġisem tagħna b’saħħtu, u fost oħrajn, biex mill-ikel li jiekol il-ġisem jieħu nutrienti u vitamini meħtieġa, kif ukoll biex iżommu u jwaqqfu l-batterji oħra milli jagħmlulhom ħsara. Instab li l-glyphosate ikisser dan il-bilanċ bejn il-batterji tajba u dawk ħżiena fl-imsaren tat-tjur.

Naraw illum kif din il-kimika glyphosate, skont studji li saru u li ġew ippublikati fil- Journal of interdisciplinary toxicology, jista’ wkoll iwassal għall-marda seliak.

Il-marda tas-seliak hija marbuta ma’ dan l-iżbilanċ ta’ dawn il-batterji fl-imsaren. Dawk li jbagħtu minn din il-marda tas-seliak huma aktar faċli li jkollhom il-kankru taċ-ċelluli bojod tad-demm, u jistgħu isofru minn infertilità, korriment, u wlied immankati. Dan b’xi mod huwa marbut ma’ din il-kimika. Sintomi oħra huma diareja, ħmura fil-ġilda, depressjoni u ħedla, kollha marbuta ma’ xi nuqqasijiet fl-ikel. Problemi fil-kliewi qed jiżdiedu wkoll fuq skala dinjija, u anki dawn huma marbuta mal-marda tal-seliak.

Dan l-istudju jagħti ’l wieħed x’jifhem li l-glyphosate li jistab fir-Roundup jista’ qiegħed iwassal għal dan.

Ta’ min wieħed jistaqsi x’qed isir f’pajjiżna f’dan il-qasam. Nafu li dan ir-Roundup jintuża kemm minn individwi kif ukoll minn entitajiet uffiċjali mħallsa kemm mill-gvern ċentrali kif ukoll minn gvernijiet lokali. Wieħed ma jistax jgħid li l-istudji li saru barra minn Malta ma japplikawx għall-pajjiżna wkoll.


bexx fit-toroq imħallas minn flus pubbliċi


bexx fl-urban ma tmurx tikber xi werqa.

Ta’ spiss wieħed jara nies bil-maskra għaddejjin ibexxu kimika fit-toroq, fuq il-bankini, madwar is-siġar, fl-għelieqi, insomma kull fejn tikber xi ħaxixa li hija meqjusa bħala ħażina. Wieħed jara wkoll medded maħruqa kannella wara li dawn jiġu mbexxa minn din il-kimika. Ta’ spiss ngħaddi minn numru ta’ toroq fejn jidher dan it-tapit kannella ta’ ħaxix li safa mbexxex biex jinqered il-ħaxix u fjuri slavaġġ.


bexx fl-agrikultura

Postijiet li jiġu f’moħħi mill-ewwel huma d-daħla għall-ajruport, li tisfa’ mbexxa sena wara sena, u anki l-medda f’nofs it-triq l-Imrieħel. Darba hawn kienu jikbru u kien ikun hemm tapit ta’ leblieb roża u ieħor ta’ ħubbejża li tant kienu jkunu sbieħ. Illum tara xi tapit kannella ta’ ħaxix maħruq u dawn il-fjuri ma jikbrux aktar. Minbarra li qed jinqerdu dawn il-fjuri slavaġġ, dan qed iwassal ukoll biex anki n-naħal li jirgħu fuq dawn il-fjuri biex jagħmlu l-għasel ukoll qed isofru u jinqerdu. U mgħandniex xi ngħidu annimali oħra li jieklu dawn l-insetti mċappsa bil-kimika, bħal għasafar u anki rettili.

Dan ix-xogħol isir, fost oħrajn, mis-sieħeb kummerċjali privat tal-gvern li jingħata €8 miljun fis-sena biex ‘isebbaħ’ ’l-Malta.


bexx fuq il-bankini anki bi ħsara għall-ħaddiem innifsu. Tgħid għax dan mhux Malti?

Xogħol ieħor bħal dan isir minn xi Kunsilli Lokali li jqabbdu wkoll xi kuntratturi biex ibixxu bi prodott li fih din il-kimika fir-raħal jew belt tagħhom. U hekk naraw ukoll nies bil-maskra jbexxu bankini, passaġġi, madwar siġar, insomma kull fejn tikber xi ħaxixa li hija meqjusa ħażina fil-konfini tagħhom.

Dan il-prodott jintuża wkoll fil-qasam tal-agrikoltura b’impatt negattiv ukoll fuq in-naħal u l-industrija tal-għasel, u fuq annimali oħra li jieklu l-insetti milquta.

Kemm għaqdiet mhux governattivi, kif ukoll individwi u anki jien, ktibna u tkellimna kemm-il darba dwar din il-ħela ta’ flus pubbliċi b’dan il-bexx, li huwa ta’ ħsara kemm għas-saħħa tal-poplu kif ukoll għall-biodiversità. Minkejja wkoll li anki mort ma’ oħrajn inkellmu lill-uffiċjali ta’ entitajiet governattivi responsabbli, dan il-bexx kien isir u għadu jsir. Ir-risposta mill-entitajiet li ngħatatilna kienet “mhux jien” u sfajna mibgħutin minn Qajfas għand Pilatu. Ħadd mhu responsabbli u ħadd ma jaf minn hu responsabbli! Ma ttieħdet l-ebda azzjoni biex tindirizza t-trażżin ta’ dan l-aġir. Wieħed ma jistax ma jgħidx u ma jaħsebx li hemm aktar interess biex dan il-bexx kimiku bl-impatti negattivi fuq is-saħħa tal-bniedem u tal-ambjent ikompli jsir, milli hemm xi rieda biex dan jitwaqqaf fl-interess ta’ saħħet il-poplu u tal-ambjent.


bexx fl-Isptar Mater Dei biswit fejn in-nies jistennew il-karozzi tal-linja. Forsi dan xi riklam għall-isptar?

Tal-anqas wieħed jistenna lill-Ministru li huwa responsabbli mill-Ministeru tal-Landscaping minn fejn jitħallas l-użu ta’ dan il-bexx; lis-Segretarju Parlamentari responsabbli mill-agrikultura fejn jintuża dan il-bexx; lis-Segretarju Parlamentari li huwa responsabbli mill-Kunsilli Lokali li jħallsu biex jintuża dan il-bexx; u lis-Segretarju Parlamentari li huwa responsabbli mis-saħħa tal-poplu li qed isofri minn konsegwenzi ta’ dan il-bexx; u l-aħħar imma mhux lanqas lis-Segretarju Parlamentari li huwa responsabbli mill-ambjent naturali (il-biodiversità), li jieħdu l-passi meħtieġa u urġenti biex jaraw li l-poplu u l-ambjent ma jibqgħux iħallsu kemm finanzjarjament kif ukoll fiżikament biex jaqdu lil dawk li jridu jibqgħu jużaw din il-kimika.


Ħubbejża tar-raba’ li wkoll kienet issebbaħ il-madwar – għebet ukoll bil-bexx


Leblieba tar-raba li kienet tikber mingħajr ebda spiża. Meqruda bil-bexx.


Il-fjuri slavaġġ li kienu jikbru, mqaxxrin u meqrudin, bil-ħlejjaq kollha li kienu jwieżnu. U dan sar bi flus puibbliċ u bil-barka politika.

Imma, ma niskanta xejn jekk ikun hemm xi politiku intelleġenti aktar milli naħseb, li jgħidilna li kemm-il poplu kif ukoll l-ambejnt iridu jħallsu xi ħaġa, anki b’saħħithom, biex ma jwaqqfux il-progress u ma jintilfux l-impiegi. U wara kollox il-kura fl-isptarijiet mhix b’xejn?!

Nafu kif dan il-pajjiż jitmexxa politikament. Nistennew il-bajtra taqa’ u mbagħad nagħmlu studju biex naraw għaliex din waqgħet. U jekk l-istudju ma jogħġobniex, nerġgħu nagħmlu studju ieħor. Sadanittant il-bajtar ikompli jaqa’.

U hekk is-saħħa tal-poplu u tal-ambjent jibqgħu jmorru lura waqt li l-kimika tkompli tintbexx, sakemm…


Mixja fil-Belt Valletta minn għaqdiet ambjentali li saret is-Sibt 23 ta’ Mejju. 2015, kontra minn jipproduċi din il-kimika.

ara wkoll:

Il-bexx kimiku, is-saħħa tal-bniedem u tal-ambjent – 1   http://wp.me/pL6Mk-Rw