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In several developing countries, a new epidemic is killing people at an alarming rate. Entire communities in Central America, India, and Sri Lanka are seeing a frightening trend—healthy young men, suddenly stricken with kidney disease. The disease is progressive, leading to complete kidney failure—currently, among the men of both El Salvador and Sri Lanka this mysterious disease is the second highest cause of death.

Known as CKDu (Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown origin), the disease causes kidney failure in men as young as 20 years old. In Sri Lanka alone, it has sickened over 15% of the population and is responsible for over 20,000 deaths. El Salvador has seen a similar rate of death, and kidney disease now kills more people there than AIDS, diabetes, and leukemia combined.

In Nicaragua, the town of Chichigalpa is known as the “Island of Widows,” with one in three men suffering from end-stage renal failure. A similar phenomenon is happening in India, where in some areas 15 to 18 percent of the population is affected—mostly agricultural workers between the ages of 30 and 50. In areas where survival is already difficult, the sickness and death among men causes a chain reaction of poverty and crisis for the women and children left behind.

How does glyphosate cause kidney disease, and why is it so prevalent in certain areas? The answer may be found in glyphosate’s mineral chelation properties. In areas where there is extremely hard water or naturally occurring arsenic or cadmium, glyphosate bonds with these toxic metals and forms a compound that makes its way into food and drinking water. Glyphosate and arsenic have been found in the urine of agricultural workers with CKDu, further supporting this theory.

In response to these findings, Sri Lanka joined El Salvador, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and the growing number of other countries that have banned the use of glyphosate due to health concerns. In India, restrictions have been put in place and additional bans are being debated. 

Adding to the difficulty, Monsanto illegally introduced GM cotton seed into India, where their use is prohibited. The country is still dealing with an ongoing saga of illness, deception, and legal issues.

Monsanto claims that their genetically modified seeds increase yield and that their products aim to help developing nations. However, the result of introducing GM crops to the very countries that are in need of aid has had the exact opposite effect. Rather than decreasing hunger, glyphosate has caused catastrophic illness and increased the burden of poverty on many families. The powers that be would like us to believe that developing countries are excited about Monsanto’s technology, but this is most often not true–as evidenced by the fact that there are currently more countries that have banned GMOs than there are countries that permit their use.

Monsanto, in the meantime, continues to claim that glyphosate has no negative effect on health despite the mounting empirical evidence to the contrary. The irresponsible pressure they have put on developing nations to use products known to cause health issues under the guise of humanitarian aid is one of the biggest tragedies of this generation.