Recent cases of cancer in the country have proved fatal with much of the cause being linked to lifestyle and food.
But have we ever thought of the whole process of agriculture from planting to the final consumption -which can cause loopholes to lifestyle diseases like cancer?
Farmers consider weed killers magic and a solution to the stubborn weeds. Concurrently in Kenya, farmers in the food basket regions have been grappling with cancer at an alarming rate.
The herbicides have become a focal point of attention globally over concern that they cause cancer. In response TingA, East Africa’s largest tractor sharing platform, has called for phase-out of the glyphosate-based weed killer RoundUp following a public outcry.
Various nations around the world have joined the call to abolish use of these herbicides following a wave of lawsuits against Monsanto and parent company Bayer by those diagnosed with cancer after using RoundUp. At least thirty nations have prohibited or restricted glyphosate or made their intentions to do the same clear.
Speaking in Naivasha, Philip Nyandieka, the General Manager, TingA said, “It is evident that many countries including France and Austria have realized the danger with these herbicides. If countries in Europe are banning them why should we continue using them at the expense of our health?”
“It is an open secret that many Kenyans are being killed by cancer. We have just seen how cancer is killing fellow citizens. In less than one month we lost at least 3 prominent leaders to this monster. Those are leaders with money that can buy them world-class medical attention in any hospital of their choice. What about thousands of Wanjikus who die every day as a result of these herbicides? We can’t take chances anymore. The government should abolish them with immediate effect,” he said.
There is growing public support for a ban on glyphosates. Agronomists and various professionals have raised the red flag over the use of risky weed killers that are used on various crops.
“We shouldn’t wait until millions of Kenyans die before we take action. We must take action or perish. Prevention is better than cure, cancer is preventable. The herbicide might not be the sole cause of cancer but prohibiting it means that we will have reduced one cause of cancer and therefore saving livings of innocent Kenyans,” he added. Various studies indicate that farmers also apply glyphosate on crops such as oats, wheat, edible beans and other crops right before harvest, raising concerns that the herbicide could get into food products.
World Health Organization's (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer, has categorized it as a likely carcinogen. A developing body of research is documenting health concerns of glyphosate as an endocrine disruptor and that it kills beneficial gut bacteria, damages the DNA in human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells and is linked to birth defects and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.
“If we don’t abolish them they will affect our economy too. If the international community realizes that Kenya is using these herbicides we risk being barred from the global markets. No one will want to buy crops with the elements of life-threatening disease. This will affect our balance of payments and balance of trade thus recession,” said farm equipment renter’s General Manager.
The herbicide doesn’t only affect the consumers but also the farmers. A Magistrate in California ruled that RoundUp had caused cancer on the plaintiff Dwayne Johnson whole body. The plaintiff was employed as a gardener for a school where he was responsible for spraying RoundUp. After three years of working in the garden the medics said that he had a few months to live as 80% of his body was eaten up by cancerous lesions.