CKDU no longer a mystery according to GMOA?


I read with interest a news item in your columns (Feb. 28, 2014) claiming that ‘GMOA says kidney disease no longer a mystery’. Reading further, we are told that "Dr. Channa Jayasumana, when contacted, said the root cause of the disease had been scientifically determined. Even other countries had accepted the research conducted by him and Sri Lankan scientists."

However, I am in receipt (in the e-mail circuit) of an article published by Dr. Jayasumana, Dr. Sarath Gunatilleke and some organization in Malabe (not a scientist!), in an online "electronic journal" on "public health", dated Feb. 20, 2014, where the paper is clearly labeled in the top left hand corner as "hypothesis". 

A hypothesis is a big word for a mere suggestion.

The hypothesis is that glyphosate, a widely used herbicide proven to be astonishingly harmless to mammalian life, becomes toxic when it gets mixed with hard water! This is, of course, an utterly unlikely hypothesis, as seen even from basic scientific knowledge. So I read this article carefully, and find that the authors propose (but do NOT prove, and do not give even one experiment to prove) that glyphosate in hard water becomes more toxic.

All they do is to repeat the well known fact that glyphosate combines with the constituents of hard water (calcium and magnesium) to form sparingly soluble solids and separates out from the water medium (like soap making scum in hard water). This actually REMOVES the glyphosate from the water, and renders it even more harmless to life, and much less effective even as a herbicide.

That is, glyphosate toxicity is inversely correlated with hard water. This fact is well known. But Jayasumana et al., publish this earth-is-flat-contrary-to everything-we-know type of hypothesis, in a free-for all electronic journal as a "hypothesis", and claim in The Island Newspaper that it is a PROVEN FACT.

Not so long ago, Dr. Jayasumana and his colleagues went around the country claiming that Arsenic was the root cause of CKDU, and had even got a divine dispensation for that view from God Natha.

Now, Dr. Jayasumana has discarded Arsenic and found a new band wagon.

But, why should the GMOA fall for this?

In any case, how toxic is glyphosphate? The LD50 value (i.e., the amount needed to kill half the population) for glyphosate toxicity is close to 6 grams/kg for a mice. So it is less toxic than alcohol, with an LD50 value of about 5 grams/kg for a mouse. It is in glyphosate which is no more toxic than carbolic soap. Soap too forms scum in hard water, by forming compounds with the Ca and Mg in hard water. So do soap scum also become toxic and cause CKDU? After all, there is a lot of detergent in our water bodies.

The general rule is that soft water is bad for you. So municipal water standards required actually make the water hard before piping it out to consumers. And yet, a misconception seems to exist in Sri Lanka, that hard water (as found in the NCP) is bad. In fact, it is the hardness of the water that has prevented CKDU from spreading even more.

The environment (in Colombo or Anuradhapura) is full of toxins which are far more dangerous than gyphosate or soap. The petroleum and diesel fumes, tar and bitumen, spray paints and poorly disposed industrial products are obvious. But even more dangerous toxins namely, salt and sugar, are ingested in great quantities by our people. These give high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Such people in the end get CKDU as well.

So why not begin by banning sugar and salt?

Instead, the GMOA had already demanded the banning of milk powder, asking everyone to drink fresh milk ("like what they do in the West").

And what’s wrong with powdered milk?

Ah! The GMOA cannot do without Lunu Miris (salt-chilli-onion crush), Caramel pudding, Ice cream, sweet meats, etc. But the GMOA, whose members have no hesitation in prescribing unnecessary amounts of drugs, medications, statins HMG, CoA, beta-Blockers, ARBs etc., on hapless patients, must now ban agro-chemicals.

The GMOA (turned agriculturists) can tell the farmers to use only cow dung and bone meal for their fertilizer. The bugs and weeds can be controlled by incantations, and by chanting suitable manthras and soothras. If the farmers cannot grow enough food to feed the hungry, the wealthy doctors in the GMOA can always fly-in their food supplies and also fresh milk from Singapore!

Here I have written merely as a science populariser who is appalled by the contentions contained in the news report. I hope the chemistry and agriculture professionals in Sri Lanka do not keep quiet because of their hesitation to ‘join the fray’. 

Bodhi Dhanapala


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