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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/17/19

Vietnam Bans Roundup/Glyphosate, then the Nation That Endured Agent Orange is Chastised by US Agriculture Secretary

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LA bans Roundup Los Angeles has voted to ban use of the popular weedkiller Roundup pending more research into the carcinogenic nature of glyphosate, its active ingredient.
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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently criticized Vietnam's move to ban imports of glyphosate-based herbicides, saying the decision would have "devastating impacts on global agricultural production."

Perdue said the U.S. government had shared scientific studies with Vietnam concluding that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.

"As I've often said, if we're going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, farmers worldwide need all the tools and technologies at our disposal. In addition to the immediate effect of slowing the development of Vietnamese agricultural production, there's the very real risk that Vietnam's farmers will turn to unregulated, illegal chemical products in place of glyphosate. Vietnam also needs to look at the potential ramifications for its own farmers."

"On numerous occasions, USDA has shared scientific studies with MARD from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other internationally recognized regulatory bodies concluding that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans. This ban flies on the face of that scientific evidence. Furthermore, Vietnam has sidestepped its obligation to notify this regulatory change to the World Trade Organization."

Vietnam's government said that the toxic level of herbicides containing glyphosate had been of concern for a very long time, and Vietnamese media reports said the ban would take effect in June.

Hoang Trung, head of the Plant Protection Department under Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said in a statement posted on the department's website that long-term exposure to herbicides and pesticides affects the environment and is severely unhealthy for those exposed. "The decision to remove herbicides containing glyphosate from the list of plant protection chemicals permitted for use in Vietnam is in accordance with the current law, international regulations and in line with Vietnam's socio-economic conditions."

Glyphosate is currently the subject of thousands of lawsuits in the US accusing that exposure to it causes several kinds of cancer. Roundup, which Bayer acquired with its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto last year, was the first to contain glyphosate, the world's most widely used weed killer. However, it is no longer protected by patents and many other versions are available. The World Health Organization's cancer arm in 2015 classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans."

Bayer said Vietnam's ban will not improve food security or safety in the country and that the company was not aware of any new scientific assessment undertaken by Vietnam's government on which the decision is based. "The overwhelming weight of over four decades of extensive science and the conclusions of regulators worldwide ... support the safety of glyphosate-based herbicide products."

Sri Lanka prohibited glyphosate use in 2015 but reversed its decision for tea and rubber last year after farmers said the ban hurt businesses, according to Bayer.

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Vietnam's ban is already having repercussions in the ranks of Australian wheat growers. Vietnam is Australia's fourth-largest grain importer.

Vietnam Government's decision to ban glyphosate means all herbicides containing glyphosate will not be imported into the country, according to Vietnam's Plant Protection Department.

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