Researchers are warning that a herbicide used in Africa to clear weeds on farmlands before planting maize is carcinogenic.
A researcher at the University of California, Dr Tyrone Hayes says, an unnamed popular herbicide banned in Europe was still being used in Africa to clean up farmlands for planting.
Dr Hayes who made the remarks at the ongoing 1st International Conference on Agroecology, Transforming Agriculture and Food Systems in Africa said while application of the herbicide reduces the cost of ploughing and planting, “the long term effects of using the herbicide are devastating.”
Dr Hayes an Endocrinologist –a researcher in hormones – said while using the herbicide increases maize production by 1.2 per cent, “the implications on health are devastating resulting in a rise in the disease burden in developing countries.”
He said the banned chemical is known to cause sterility in men and is responsible for both prostate and breast cancer and added, “children born of people who have been using the herbicide and those who eat food that may have been grown in areas where the herbicide was used are known to give birth to children with birth defects and overall retardation.”
While noting that the herbicide has longterm effects on both humans and the environment, the researcher said the herbicide can cause still-births as well as boy-children being born with female characteristics.
Herbicides of the triazine class are used to prevent pre- and post-emergence broadleaf weeds in crops such as maize and sugarcane and on turfs, such as golf courses and residential lawns.