Engage Agro Corporation has offices all over Canada. In Nova Scotia they are located in Upper Musquodoboit. The company “develops, registers, and markets protection, nutritional and management products for plants, turf, agricultural crops, industrial vegetation management and forestry across Canada.” They also sell VisionMAX® and offer a fact sheet for it. It’s chemical base is 47 percent glyphosate. The Honourable Margaret Miller, Minister of Environment in Nova Scotia, has deemed it’s environmentally friendly, except for everything that it kills. It weeds out the hardwood stands and broadleaf undergrowth in forests so that companies like Northern Pulp can make more profit by promoting the growth of softwood. The loss of diversity in Nova Scotian forests is the unfortunate outcome, but it seems the Liberal government, led by Premier Stephen McNeil, understands that sometimes profits take priority over the environment.
It’s important to note that Engage Agro Corporation fact sheet on the product comes with a few cautions:
- Avoid direct applications to any body of water. Do not use in areas where adverse impact on domestic water or aquatic species is likely. Do not contaminate water by disposal of waste or cleaning of equipment. Avoid all drift to or contact with other vegetation for which treatment is not intended as damage or destruction may occur.
- Do not apply to any body of water populated with fish or used for domestic purposes. Do not use in areas where adverse impact on domestic water or aquatic species is likely.
- Do not allow spray to come in contact with foliage, green stems or fruit of non-target crops, since they may be killed or severely damaged.
A lot of the research on glyphosate isn’t complete. One of the chemicals that make up 15 percent of it, is polyethoxylated (POE) tallowamine. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported it was harmful for humans to be exposed to it and that a “number of poisoning incidents in humans, sometimes even resulting in death, were reported with effects resembling the ones seen with human poisoning with surfactants and therefore assumed to be mainly due to the tallowamine components of the respective formulations.” The EFSA makes it clear that there hasn’t been enough testing completed and there is a lack of data yet. Health Canada does NOT protect Canadians from harmful pesticide use.
There has also been the question of whether or not the use of glyphosate has contributed to the increasing occurrences of blue-green alga appearing in lakes throughout the province. The Ohio Sea Grant researchers, Drs. R. Michael McKay and George Bullerjahn of Bowling Green State University were studying the impact of glyphosate, a phosphonate — the main ingredient in the commonly used herbicide in 2009, on the strains of blue-green algae found in Lake Erie. They discovered Roundup may be contributing to the growth of harmful algal blooms. Since it has been suggested that glyphosate is water soluble and couldn’t be the cause, it may be the result of the combination of it and the polyethoxylated tallowamine, since it has a phosphorous base. It could help explain why there are increasing cases of blue-green algae appearing in Nova Scotia. Engage Agro Corporation fact sheet only warns about any direct applications to any body of water, but it fails to mention the reason.
A division of the WHO (World Health Organization), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released a report on March 20, 2015, stating the herbicide glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Meanwhile it was discovered that one of the scientists, Christopher Portier was acting on behalf of the Washington-based anti-industry NGO – the Environmental Defense Fund. This unfortunate incident resulted in the loss of some credibility, and perhaps rightfully so. Thankfully, they weren’t the only group(s) studying the issue.
TOXNET® (TOXicology Data NETwork) is a U.S. group of databases covering chemicals and drugs, diseases and the environment, environmental health, occupational safety and health, poisoning, risk assessment and regulations, and toxicology. It is managed by the Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program (TEHIP) in the Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). A report they released, titled Glyphosate said:
Glyphosate is an active ingredient of the most widely used herbicide and it is believed to be less toxic than other pesticides. However, several studies showed its potential adverse health effects to humans as it may be an endocrine disruptor. Concentrated solutions of glyphosate can also cause dermal irritation. Most intoxicated cases are from ingestion, inhalation, and skin exposure. Pulmonary edema, shock, and arrhythmia were the reported causes of mortality. Ingestion of glyphosate-surfactant herbicides can result in acute kidney injury, electrolyte abnormalities, acidosis, cardiovascular collapse, and death.
The report also goes on to say:
The herbicide glyphosate and the insecticides malathion and diazinon were classified as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A). For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The evidence in humans is from studies of exposures, mostly agricultural, in the USA, Canada, and Sweden published since 2001. In addition, there is convincing evidence that glyphosate also can cause cancer in laboratory animals. On the basis of tumours in mice, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) originally classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group C) in 1985. After a re-evaluation of that mouse study, the US EPA changed its classification to evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans (Group E) in 1991. The US EPA Scientific Advisory Panel noted that the re-evaluated glyphosate results were still significant using two statistical tests recommended in the IARC Preamble. The IARC Working Group that conducted the evaluation considered the significant findings from the US EPA report and several more recent positive results in concluding that there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Glyphosate also caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, although it gave negative results in tests using bacteria. One study in community residents reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) after glyphosate formulations were sprayed nearby.
There is insufficient data and many reports by various agencies that need to complete their research and publish their findings. The Honourable Margaret Miller, Minister of Environment in Nova Scotia has admitted that she doesn’t have time to do her own research and makes her decisions based on what is recommended to her from the committees she appoints to inform her on various issues. Perhaps a new review is warranted.