Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) is waiting on clearance from Registrar of Pesticides to commission the first consignment of glyphosate after the ban was lifted in July, CPC Agrochemicals officials confirmed.
“The CPC has called for tenders and the Pesticide Technical and Advisory Committee appointed by the Registrar of Pesticides has to now select an eligible supplier to bring down the weedicide to Sri Lanka. The committee has identified three suppliers at the moment. The Registrar of Pesticides is now in the process of testing the samples,” CPC Agrochemicals Manager Suranga Perera told the Daily FT.
He pointed out that if the quality and standards of all three suppliers are given the approval by the Pesticide Technical and Advisory Committee, CPC will call for the lowest bid and complete the tender process in the near future.
“The tender process cannot be completed until CPC gets confirmation from the committee. We have categorically stated that when we called for tenders. Once the Pesticide Technical and Advisory Committee confirms the principal supplier and registers the same, we can then open the tender to finalise procedure to bring down the first shipment,” Perera added.
According to Perera, the glyphosate requirement given by the Plantation Industries Ministry is one million litres per annum, which will be brought down in two consignments.
“Considering the legal and other technical procedures, CPC expects the delivery of first shipment of glyphosate in Sri Lanka by early October,” he said.
Perera also said the Plantation Industries Ministry will provide ‘customer codes’ for plantation companies to collect their quota of weedicide from CPC distributions centres in Kolonnawa and Kandy.
The National Economic Council (NEC) decided to lift the arbitrary ban imposed on glyphosate in March 2018, in light of overwhelming scientific consensus that the substance was not harmful to human health. The Cabinet in May approved of lifting of the ban on the glyphosate weedicide, only for tea and rubber industries, for a period of 36 months. The Registrar of Pesticides issued a Special Gazette on 11 July lifting the ban. The CPC was given the sole authority to import and distribute glyphosate to the tea and rubber industries.
Plantation Industries Ministry Secretary J. Ranjith said that the controversial weedicide would only be released to the industry twice a year, considering the industry requirement, which will then be strictly monitored by the Registrar of Pesticides, Plantation Industries Ministry, Tea Small Holdings Development Authority and Tea Research on its use.
Nevertheless, Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne last week said that the Government should re-impose the ban, after a US court ruled it had caused the terminal cancer of an American citizen.
Addressing the Cabinet decision media briefing on 15 August, the Minister pointed out that he opposed the lifting of the ban from the beginning.
“Considering the global conversation regarding the health and environmental aspects of glyphosate, the Government should re-impose the ban immediately,” he added.
Senaratne said there were a large number of cases against the agrochemical giant, Monsanto, the maker of glyphosate-based weed-killers such as Roundup.
Monsanto was recently ordered to pay $289 million in damages in the first of possibly thousands of US lawsuits over alleged links between a weed-killer and cancer.
In 2015, President Maithripala Sirisena banned glyphosate, claiming it was causing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) after some researchers published a paper linking glyphosate to the disease, which is prevalent in the North Central Province of the country.
The withdrawal of glyphosate from the market during the past three years also resulted in a massive economic cost and posed a threat to the sustainability of the tea export market, which generates much-needed foreign income to the country. According to the Plantation Industries Ministry, the tea industry alone has incurred a loss of Rs. 26 billion per year due to the ban imposed on glyphosate.