Glyphosate with which the West is killing humanity
Glyphosate with which the West is killing humanity
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Photo: Activists in front of the Brandenburg Gate oppose the use of the pesticide glyphosate, Berlin, Germany (Photo: Britta Pedersen / dpa / Global Look Press)

Environmental economists such as Herman Daly(Herman E. Daly) - emphasize that since external costs * from pollution and resource depletion are not included in the gross domestic product, we do not know whether the GDP growth will lead to profitability or loss.

External costs are enormous and they are growing. Historically, manufactory and manufacturing corporations, corporate agriculture, urban sewers, and other “defendants” have shifted the costs of their operations to environmental costs and to third parties. There have been a lot of reports lately about Monsanto's Roundup, the main ingredient of which is glyphosate **, which is considered a carcinogen.

One health organization, the Environmental Working Group, recently reported that its tests found glyphosate in 43 out of 45 baby breakfasts, including like granola, oats, and sugary bars from Quaker, Kellogg, and General Mills.

Tests in Brazil found that 83% of mothers' breast milk contains glyphosate.

The Munich Environmental Institute reported that the 14 types of beer most widely sold in Germany contain glyphosate.

Glyphosate has been found in the urine of Mexican farmers and in underground aquifers in Mexico.

Scientific American reported that even Roundup's inert ingredients are capable of killing human cells, especially cells from the fetus, placenta and umbilical cord.

One German toxicologist has accused the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and the European Food Safety Authority of scientific fraud for validating the findings of a working group led by Monsanto that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.

The controversy over this data stems from the fact that industry-funded scientists provide reports that there is no link between glyphosate and cancer. At the same time, independent scientists provide data on the existence of such a link. This should hardly come as a surprise to anyone, since the scientists who are supported by the industry are not independent and cannot be expected to draw conclusions or conclusions that are opposite to those for which they were hired.

There are also differences of opinion as to what level of glyphosate contamination a product must reach to be classified as hazardous. In fact, it is the case that the concentrations increase as the repetitions and application times increase (Roundup - SD). Sooner or later, this concentration becomes sufficient to cause damage.

The purpose of this particular article is to show that if glyphosate is a carcinogen, then Monsanto / Bayer does not bear the cost of lives and medical expenses. If these costs were not external to Monsanto, that is, if this corporation was obliged to bear these costs, then its product would be economically inexpedient. The costs of producing it would outweigh the benefits.

The truth is hard to find because politicians and regulators are prone to bribery and tend to serve their friends in the business sector. In Brazil, lawmakers are actually trying to deregulate pesticide use and ban the sale of organic food in supermarkets.

In the case of glyphosate, the tide may have gone against the Monsanto / Bayer corporation. Thus, the California Supreme Court upheld the decision of the state authorities to add the herbicide glyphosate to the list of carcinogens at number 65.

Last week, a San Francisco jury awarded a former school janitor $ 289 million in damages for cancer damage from Roundup. There is no doubt that Monsanto will appeal and the case will get bogged down in the courts until the janitor dies. But this is a precedent, and it indicates that the jury is beginning to distrust "hired science." Approximately 1,000 similar cases are still pending in the courts.

It is important to understand that if Roundup is indeed a carcinogen, then it is just one of the products produced by the company. This gives an idea of ​​how large external costs can be. The harmful effects of glyphosate use go far beyond the scope of this article.

Genetically modified objects (GMOs) also have a negative impact on livestock.

Now think about the negative impact on the air, water and land resources of the use of chemicals in agriculture. Florida suffers from algal blooms due to chemical fertilizer washout from agricultural land. And the sugar industry contributed to the destruction of Lake Okeechobee ***.

Fertilizer wash-off leads to the proliferation of blue-green algae blooms, which kill marine life and pose a threat to humans. The St. Lucie River in Florida is now 10 times more toxic than it could be touched.

Blooming algae can cause red tides for natural reasons, but fertilizer washout enhances their growth and increases their resilience. Moreover, the contribution of pollution to an increase in ambient temperature also contributes to "red tides". The same applies to the drainage of swamps in order to develop residential real estate, as a result of which the water moves quickly and does not undergo natural filtration.

And when the water situation deteriorated and algal blooms spread, the Florida government responded by cutting water monitoring programs.

When we factor in these huge external costs of corporate land use, it becomes clear that the costs associated with producing sugar and other food products are prohibitive for GDP. The prices that consumers pay are too low. And the profits that agricultural corporations receive are extremely high. Indeed, none of them take into account the mass death of marine animals and fish, the lost tourism business and human diseases caused by the tides of algae that depend on the washout of chemical fertilizers.

In this article, I have only scratched the surface of the external cost problem. The state of Michigan has learned that tap water is unsafe. The water supply system is full of chemicals that have been used for decades in military bases and in the manufacture of consumer goods.

As an exercise, pick any business and think about the external costs to it. Take, for example, American corporations that have moved their jobs to Asian offshores. Corporate profits have risen, but the federal, state and local tax base has shrunk. The payroll tax base for social insurance and health care has shrunk. As a result, these important foundations of US social and political stability were threatened. The tax base for calculating pensions for school teachers and other government officials has been reduced. If corporations that have transferred their jobs overseas took on these costs, they would not have received any profits. In other words, a few people won, who passed huge costs onto everyone else.

Or consider something as simple as a pet shop.All the owners and clients of such shops, everyone who sold and bought colorful pythons from half a meter to 75 cm long, boas and anacondas for the moment of purchase did not even think about what size these snakes would reach. Regulatory authorities, which allowed the import of these reptiles, did not think about it either. And then, when it turns out that this creature is able to devour other pets and children, as well as strangle adults to death, these snakes are dumped into the Everglades ****, where they have already destroyed the natural fauna and multiplied so that their livestock cannot be controlled. The external cost easily exceeds the aggregate price that pet stores get for selling all of these snakes many times over.

Environmental economists emphasize that capitalism operates in an “empty economy” where the pressure of people on natural resources is low. But in a "complete economy" where natural resources are on the brink of destruction, capitalism does not work. The external costs associated with economic growth - as recorded in GDP - can far exceed the total value of goods produced.

It is safe to say that this is exactly the situation today. The destruction of species, the spread of toxins in food, beverages, water, breast milk, air, earth, desperate attempts to extract energy by hydraulic fracturing of an oil and gas reservoir (fracking), which destroys groundwater and leads to earthquakes, etc. are all signs the fact that the pressure on the planet is excessive. When we calculate all this, it turns out that all the profits that capitalism has generated over the centuries may have been obtained because the capitalists did not have to cover the full cost of their production. They passed these costs onto the environment and third parties, and pocketed the unaccounted costs in the form of profits.

Addition: Herman Daly notes that last year the British medical journal Lancet estimated the annual cost of pollution at about 6% of the global economy, while the annual global economic growth was at 2%. Thus, the difference of 4% is an annual decline in wealth, not a 2% increase in it. In other words, most likely, we are already in a situation where economic growth is not economically viable.

By Paul Craig Roberts, Ph.D. in Economics, former US Under Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy in the Ronald Reagan administration. He has worked as an editor and columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Businessweek and Scripps Howard News Service. At one time he was the author of a regular column in the newspaper "The Washington Times". Author of numerous books on the biggest problems of our time.

* External costs are expenses paid for resources that do not belong to the owner of the firm. These costs include the cost of purchasing raw materials, materials, energy, wages to employees (labor costs).

** Glyphosate is a non-selective systemic herbicide used to control weeds, especially perennial weeds. It ranks first among herbicides in the world in terms of production.

*** Okeechobee is a freshwater lake in Florida. The area of ​​the mirror is 1900 km², the average depth is only about 3 m, the maximum depth is 3.7 m. The lake occupies the territories of Glades, Okeechobee, Martin, Palm Beach and Hendry counties.

**** Everglades National Park is a 6,000-square-kilometer wetland reserve on the southern tip of the US state of Florida, reminiscent of a slowly flowing grassy river. The park is covered with coastal mangroves, sword grass swamps and plain pine forests. It is home to hundreds of species of animals, including the endangered leatherback turtles, Florida cougars and American manatees.

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