Vol.19 No.0618 Tuesday Edition, June 18, 2019
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The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, said in 2015 that glyphosate was likely carcinogenic. /  A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo

Government begins the creation of a decree
to restrict the use of glyphosate

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Specialists of Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock announced that they are working together with specialists at the ministries of Health, Environment and Energy and Labor, on a decree that seeks to regulate and restrict the use of glyphosate.

"This decree seeks to prohibit the use of this agrochemical for non-agricultural purposes," said the ministry in its statement. "When the user is in agricultural duties, the product can only be sold under prescription, authorized by a professional in agricultural sciences who must be also incorporated to the College of Agricultural Engineers."

Being consistent with these regulations, glyphosate containers and plans must bear the legend "Restricted Use Product" and "Sale Under Professional Recipe," according to the proposed decree.

In addition, the National Phytosanitary Service will establish, together with the College of Agricultural Engineers, the technical guidelines for the handling and application of this agrochemical, which will be published after the decree was approved.

Also, the Occupational Health Council of the Ministry of Labor will carry out information campaigns on occupational health measures that should be taken by those who handle agrochemicals in authorized use cases.

The authorities of the ministries will meet every four months to see compliance with the decree and each year will analyze the new scientific evidence on the impact on health, environment, and agriculture. If irregularities are found, the corresponding measures will be taken, the ministry said.

Before it is formalized by the government, this decree will be in public consultation during the next 10 business days in order to receive comments from the different sectors and improve its content.

After analyzing all the responses and recommendations, and produce the final text, the decree will be published in the official government newspaper known as La Gaceta.

Right after that publication, the persons or factories that manufacture, import, manipulate or sell glyphosate will have six months of time to comply with the requirements established on the decree, according to the proposal.

On May 9, as was reported by A.M. Costa Rica that the Ombudsman's Office recommended the total elimination of the use, exportation, and import of the herbicide glyphosate as it is considered harmful to health.

"It is considered necessary and supported the proposal of an executive decree for the prohibition of the import, manufacture, sale, and supply of active ingredients technical grade, its salts and formulated products containing the active ingredient glyphosate," said the agency in its statement.

Glyphosate, often marketed under the Roundup brand, is applied in urban public areas such as parks, cemeteries, street rounds, sidewalks, pipe right-of-ways and all kinds of green areas.

Its use is currently prohibited at three universities, the University of Costa Rica, the State University at a Distance and the National Technical University.

Also it is prohibited at 21 municipalities, which in alphabetical order are: Alajuela, Aserrí, Barva, Belén, Corredores, Curridabat, Desamparados, Escazú, Esparza, La Unión, Montes de Oca, Orotina, Pérez Zeledón, Quepos, San Isidro de Heredia, San Mateo, Santa Ana, Santo Domingo, Sarapiquí, Talamanca and Tibás.

In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, said that the weed killer glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans, but recommended new measures to prevent potential ecological risks, especially to monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

According to the agency, glyphosate developer Monsanto was convicted in 2018 and 2019 of not taking necessary steps to warn of the potential risks of Roundup, their weed killer containing the chemical, which two California juries found caused cancer in two users.

In a statement, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the agency found "no risks to public health from the currently registered uses of glyphosate." It did not propose new instructions, subject to a public comment period, for farmers and others using the chemical to reduce "spray drift" that can harm butterflies.

Under those regulations, glyphosate labels in the U.S. would have to instruct aerial users to spray the chemical more than 10 feet (three meters) above crops or if wind speeds exceed 15 miles per hour (24 kilometers per hour).

Meanwhile, labels would be required to state that when applied from the ground, the chemical must not be sprayed more than four feet above crops and that all must be set to mist the product at a fine or coarser setting.

The proposed instructions also include new regulations around glyphosate's use around water.

The EPA said the chemical presents low toxicity to honey bees, but does present a potential risk to birds and plants, including aquatic plants.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, said in 2015 that glyphosate was likely carcinogenic.

The German pharmaceutical firm Bayer, which bought Monsanto, announced that over 13,000 lawsuits related to the weed killer have been launched in the U.S.

Have you heard cases of people poisoned by the use of glyphosate? We would like to know your thoughts on this story.  Send your comments to:

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