What is the crux of the Glyphosate controversy? Some corporations insist that this is just a harmless chemical in the most widely used herbicide while some scientist and activists disagree. When I found out about the debate I applied common sense and looked for the usual suspects. The David versus Goliath battles have been going on between banner holders of humanity and the corporate giants since times immemorial. The question is who gains what out of his stance? The corporations have invested millions of dollars in launching and advertising products that have finally paid off by becoming a household name and a necessity in our everyday lives. Their stakes are so high that we can and do understand their reluctance in owning up to any problems that may arise in those popular products. But the question arises if human life and suffering is worth more than all this money or is it just collateral damage in a money driven society? I reminisce upon the Ellen Brocovich vs. Proctor and Gamble case and wonder if she had been silenced or discouraged how many more fatalities would have happened? It may be an extreme example but not an uncommon one. As a medical professional I cannot ever forget the images of the Thalidomide babies imprinted in my memory from medical school. Those families will never forget that product. It produced babies with fins. Someone was irresponsible enough to think that the collateral damage will only happen to other people and they will be safe. What is safety if the lines are all muddled? How do you ensure you will not be harmed by a chemical that has not been tested by a third party who has nothing to gain out of its failure or success?
Someone very heartily debated that the pioneers of tobacco industry are in the frontline of the battle against cancer so why can’t the corporations making herbicides test their effects on human health? I winced as a physician because I know for a fact that the cigarette is a fine human invention where forty carcinogens are combined in a small, thin roll of tobacco. I will not say it CAN KILL you because the truth is IT WILL KILL you. And no amount of million dollar advertising or advocating will change this blatant fact. I remember one of my patients who had been a chain smoker for forty years, debating endlessly the harmlessness of smoking while we were counselling him on the extreme procedure we were about to perform to remove his jaw and most of his tongue for the fungating oral cancer he had. It was as if he was brain washed and could not see past his obsession and addiction. I also remember sitting by his bedside after the procedure when tears were rolling down his cheeks and he kept shaking his head. If it was not for humane reasons and patient privacy, I would have loved to share the effects of smoking as a counter ad campaign against the advertisement of beautiful girls and handsome boys smoking while having the time of their lives. That party would have ended there.
Coming back to Glyphosate, GMOs and the whole charade. Do we know for a fact that they are turning up in our foods, mother’s milk, body fluids and environment? The answer is yes. What is the level of toxicity? When asked of the corporations they quoted a very high figure that seemed impossible for anyone to be exposed to. If even we paid heed to that quoted number, I know that a lot of symptoms can precede death. Lethal dose is not the question, the actual point is that if tiny traces of this chemical are found in our food, water and environment every day, what amount are we accumulating from the womb to the grave? Do we know for a fact that Glyphosate has harmful effects on human health? The answer is painfully obscure. The people who gain millions of dollars by selling these products are also pretending to study the effects of these products on human health. No one in their right mind would trust these studies. As a physician I would advocate one universal line of action only. Whenever you want to truly judge the efficacy or toxicity of any drug, chemical or product, let the researchers be unbiased and neutral personnel who are not paid by the beneficiaries of those brands. It is impertinent to understand that we and our children will only learn after decades how we were affected by this. In hindsight no one can minimize the suffering of a nuclear holocaust or Thalidomide. It becomes a scientific, medical and human nightmare that we shamefully whisper to the next generation of scientists and doctors only to forget the lesson as soon as the next corporation versus humanity debate arises.