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Spraying of Roundup on soybeans pollutes the water and causes increased infant mortality, plus lower birth weight and premature births. Jeffrey Smith reports.
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This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity
Hello, everyone. This is Jeffrey Smith, and I have some sobering news from Brazil. A study that was actually completed last year, but very few people knew about it until it was reported by BBC in Portuguese, and now translated into English. Researchers conducted in Brazil, a very meticulous study, looking at the downstream effects of Roundup that's sprayed on soybeans. Brazil is the largest soybean producer in the world, outpacing the United States in recent years. And it does so by growing lots of Roundup Ready soy, and Roundup Ready soy can be sprayed with Roundup, even by planes. And it causes, basically, a drenching of the groundwater and a contamination of the water supply by glyphosate, the chief poison in Roundup. Now, they looked at the hydrology of the regions that were growing soy and figured out where the water was going to flow to and who would be drinking it.
And then, they looked at the birth statistics from 2004 and up to 2010. And they found that the areas that were downstream from the glyphosate had lower birth weights on average, more premature births, but also higher levels of infant mortality - 5% higher, which translates into 503 infant deaths per year in Brazil, which is a horrible statistic for me to have to share. The people living upstream did not have the changes in birth statistics. The pregnancy outcomes were worse when the pregnant women were exposed during pregnancy, when a lot of Roundup was being sprayed. So it showed a spike that was associated with high spraying. So, there was a lot of evidence indicating that it was, in fact, the Roundup being sprayed. And it's simply stunning to translate the study into 503 deaths. We know in Argentina, where there's a lot of Roundup Ready soy,
the infant mortality rate of a whole region went up 400%, in one small region...up to seventyfold. We know that the cancer rate was up 300% in a whole region. We know that the death rate was highly associated in the area with the spraying of Roundup. In fact, you could take one town in Argentina and track the proximity of where people lived in association to the soybean fields adjacent, and the closer they were, the higher the probability that there would be an associated sickness. So it's absolutely devastating. And I hope that in Brazil, it will revive the campaign to stop this. I was down there many, many times, trying to stop GMOs. In the early days, I was invited by the federal prosecutors to speak at their conference. I remember, also, in the capital city, there were about 75 ministry staff and members of parliament and members of the government and reporters asking me questions for three hours, constantly.
I had lunch with the governor of Parana and then spoke to all the people working for the state [province] of Parana, because they wanted to promote non-GMO soy, and they loved the evidence that we were bringing about the dangers of GM soy. I ended up doing TV shows. I was on something called Roda Viva, which is their top interview show, where it was like defending a PhD thesis. I was sitting in a chair that could swivel, and there were reporters all around me, and they would ask me questions that I had to turn and answer the question and then turn and answer the question. And at the same time, the moderator was asking questions from the live audience. There were tweets going out, and there was someone drawing caricatures of me the whole time, which later got published.
It was an hour and a half of nonstop. I loved it, by the way. Even though there was one of the reporters from the agricultural industry, trying to mess me up, I was able to handle all of the questions. I kept going down to Brazil, speaking at conferences, speaking at universities, and there was tremendous interest. I spoke to the head of their FDA. I spoke to senior members of parliament. I spoke to senior members of government. I spoke to the Minister of Agrarian Reform. Well, there's no more Ministry of Agrarian Reform; in 2016, that was basically ended. They were going for organic. They were going for agroecology. And there was a bit of a balance in the government at that time. In fact, the FDA was very concerned about GMOs and Roundup, but the government was able to put the decision-making into the hands of the Agriculture Ministry, and that was pro GMO.
So, this is what happens all over the world. Monsanto captures a particular ministry and then works out to give that ministry, the authority, and then their people make the decisions, and the people who are more independent don't get to make the decisions. In fact, there was an authority that was approving GMOs, and I remember going and speaking to them, speaking to the group that approved GMOs, and I gave them solid evidence that GMOs were not safe, and they completely ignored it afterwards. I remember speaking to the chairman and the vice chairman; it's like, they didn't even hear it. It was so frustrating, but there was a movement at the time. And now, unfortunately, agribusiness has fully taken over with support from the government. And the collateral damage is the health of Brazilians and, in particular, infants. And right now, we know that as of 2010, it was 503 infants per year. And, or at 5% of that may be translated into this year's numbers. I'm not sure. So, we have a situation where we have devastation of the health of a country, predicted in advance by those of us who were trying to get the country to say, “no.” Now, we have verification. Will they do anything? I don't know.
I was just speaking to a friend in Brazil, today. And again, thinking, “Boy, I'd like to go back there,” but it's interesting once a government fully capitulates to Monsanto, state government or federal government, it's hard to get in. I remember I was invited to Australia by a coalition of people bringing out the science of the dangers of GMOs. They were trying to stop the lifting of the moratorium on GMO canola. And it was going to be decided by state. For those that hadn't decided already, I was able to meet with all the ministers of agriculture and get in and have very important high-level meetings. For the two states that had already made up their minds, they refused to meet with me. They released a GMO canola, three weeks later. And just as we had predicted in all the other meetings, it was a disaster, an economic disaster.
Australia lost its economic premium for non-GMO canola. Some farmers couldn't sell it at all. Certain co-ops in Japan closed their doors to it. There was widespread contamination of the non-GMO. It damaged the organic reputation. It was exactly as we predicted. But we found out that one of the government bodies (that were one of the unions) that was representing the farmers who were in favor, they were promised financial royalties from the GMOs, by probably, Monsanto. So there's a lot of ways that the biotech industry, in particular Monsanto, has captured and captivated governments that I've seen all over the world. And now, it’s of little consolation that I can say “told you so” in the face of 503 infant deaths, per year, in that country. I'm just hoping that people will share this video widely, not just in Brazil. Because obviously, in the United States, there was research already showing that there were low birth weights and premature birth, associated in rural areas, where glyphosate was being sprayed in the United States.
So, we have evidence all over the world. I remember in China, I was there with 30 to 40 people, the top scientists who did research on GMOs and Roundup, the top activists, veterinarians, pediatricians, and other doctors, all presenting evidence from their own countries on GMOs and Roundup. I had the honor of summarizing all the evidence that had been explained, over that weekend, to very prominent people in the Chinese society, in the audience. And I had a chance to pull together and show how evidence for each country was consistent in cancer, in birth defects, and reproductive problems, both in humans, in animals, in lab animals, as well as livestock, as well as petri dishes with cells; the whole thing was all there. We have the evidence.
So please, on behalf of this generation and the next generation, whenever you get from the Institute for Responsible Technology, please pass it on to others. Please, get it out because lives are at stake. We don't want to have another 500 infants in Brazil and how many in the United States and Argentina and elsewhere die as a result of these terrible policies. So that's today's update from this. But it's interesting that information came out on June 2nd. On June 1st, a whole different information came out from France, that a court acquitted activists from damaging Roundup in stores. They put down tarps, so nothing else would get damaged. They painted the Roundup, warning people about the dangers, and they were arrested. And the court just released its findings, acquitting them, saying this actually was appropriate, balanced behavior by members of the public, given the documented dangers. So, they acquitted them of, basically, causing the Roundup cans or bottles in the store to be unsellable. And they did not get fined. They did not get sentenced. They got acquitted because the court said “Based on what we know about the dangers of Roundup, this was appropriate behavior.” So it was a wake up call in France; the same week, we hear about the devastating damage in Brazil.
That's all for this week. Safe eating, everyone. And please, share this information far and wide.