In an announcement last week, Rajarata University Professor Channa Sudath Jayasumana announced that a group made up of patients, the families of deceased farmers, researchers, and farmers’ organizations would be taking Monsanto and its new owner Bayer, along with other manufacturers of glyphosate-containing herbicides, to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. At the heart of the legal battle is the connection between herbicides containing glyphosate and a condition known as fatal chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology, or CKDu, which has been responsible for the deaths of 25,000 people in Sri Lanka.
CKDu now affects more than 15 percent of working-aged people in the northern area of Sri Lanka. This amounts to 400,000 patients and 25,000 deaths. In the lawsuit, each of the victims and patients will be requesting the equivalent of $620,000 in damages.
Although the use of glyphosate was banned in the country in 2015, the government partially lifted that ban earlier this year to “help” rubber and tea farmers.
A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research Public Health demonstrated a link between glyphosate and CKDu epidemics in a number of poor farming regions throughout the world. Follow-up research noted a further link between herbicides that contain glyphosate in conjunction with heavy metals and CKDu.