Pesticides and GMOA’ allegation

I read with deep concern and interest the news item in The Island Newspaper (4-10-2014) reporting the allegation by Dr. Padeniya of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) that the "GMOA had information that some officials were looked after by multinational agrochemical companies". Dr. Padeniya seems to suggest that these officials allowed the import of fertilizers contaminated with toxic materials because they were "looked after".

He goes on to say:

"It has been scientifically proved that many agrochemicals contaminated water sources and the people who used them for drinking contracted the killer kidney disease".

The above sentence summarizes what the public tacitly believes; the knee-jerk reaction is to ban them. Trade unionists as well as politicians like to make statements that win public acclaim rather than follow scientific facts that go against common beliefs..

The scientific facts seem to be very different; the origin of kidney disease is not tied to known toxins and remains unknown. A World Health Organization-study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The research was done by a large team of doctors and scientists, spear-headed by the medical doctor Shanthi Mendis. They found NO significant amounts of TOXINS in some 234 water samples that they analyzed with a parts-per-billion accuracy. An independent Japanese-Sri Lankan study led by Dr. Nanayakkara looked for some 14 different toxins (like Arsenic, Cadmium etc) in water and found NO significant amounts of toxins. Other independent investigators have confirmed the conclusions of the WHO team that kidney disease cannot be tied to the usual toxins like As, Cd, Lead, glyphosate and pesticide residues alleged to be from agro-chemicals.

But, even if Dr. Padeniya is wrong about the origin of Kidney disease, his strong allegation is surely worthy of investigation by the police. The good names of the registrar of pesticides and his officials have been libeled and they should be given a chance to protect themselves in court.

An even more serious, equally libelous, allegation has been made by Dr. Jayasumana, who has become the "Director" of the Kindey-Disease task-force. He alleges that some retired scientists are in the pay of agro-chemical companies, and are writing in favour of them! Dr. Jayasumana and a few others at first claimed that Arsenic, and now Glyphosate, cause kidney disease in the Rajarata. The WHO team reported that there were no significant amounts of Arsenic, glyphosate, etc., in the food-chain or water in the Rajarata. So are they in the pay of agro-chemical companies?

I have seen articles by Dr. Waidyanatha, Dr. Stanley Weeratne, Prof. Vijaya Kumar, Prof. Illeperuma, Prof. Wanigasuriya and others rejecting the claims of Dr. Jayasumana (and Dr. Padeniya). Is Dr. Jayasumana claiming that all or some of the above individuals have been contracted by agro-chemical companies to write on their behalf? I have also seen articles by internationally famous scientists living abroad, like Professor Chandre Dharmawardana in Canada, as well as Medical Professor Sunil Wimalawansa in New Jersey. They also reject the hypothetical claims made by Dr. Jayasumana.

Prof. Dharmawardana is a past Vice-Chancellor and Professor of the present day Sri J’pura University, currently working at the highly prestigious research arm of the Canadian government, while also being a Professor at a Canadian University. Prof. Wimalawansa is a US Professor of medicine and the allegations are probably nothing but vicious venom.

The allegations are also a facade of false ecological bravado. After all, both Dr. Padeniya (the Trade-unionist ) and Dr. Jayasumana (the political appointee) are ambitious individuals who have now mutated into politicians. Not so long ago Dr. Padeniya demanded that powdered milk should be banned to satisfy the wishes of some "militant nutritionists" in Colombo who are inspired by Californian activists to support raw milk, even against pasteurized milk!

The libeled individuals should initiate a class-action case in the Colombo courts so that the true facts can come out. Dr. Padeniya and Dr. Jayasumana can reveal the vital information that they claim to have, while the concerned individuals, the WHO-team, the Registrar of Pesticides, the faculties of science and medicine etc., can defend themselves and clear their good names. Or else, if proven guilty, they should be dealt with according to the law.

Bodhi Dhanapala, Quebec, Canada.

(The author is a popular-science writer, blogger and science teacher)

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