COLOMBO, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- Over a hundred people protested outside the United Nations (UN) office on Tuesday demanding compensation from the UN for kidney disease that they allege was caused by using UN approved fertilizer, an official said here.
The Swarna Hansa Foundation (SHF) staged the protest on World Food Day to call attention to what it alleged was the UN misleading farmers to believe that a toxic fertilizer was in fact safe.
Organizers insist that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization approved fertilizer in fact caused chronic kidney disease in thousands of farmers and led to an estimated 22,000 deaths.
"Studies have proven that excess use of fertilizer is the main reason for the spread of chronic kidney disease in many farming communities in Sri Lanka, particularly in the north central province. Therefore we demand compensation from the UN for approving this harmful substance," said SHF member Dr. Suriya Gunasekera who handed over a petition to the UN during the protest.
On 14 August, a group of Sri Lankan doctors released a report that they said was compiled as part of an ongoing joint research project by the Sri Lankan government and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The report states that "exposure to a combination of factors that are toxic to the kidneys (rather than one single factor) seems to cause this kidney disease. Toxic factors identified up to now include nephrotoxic agrochemicals, arsenic and cadmium."
As many as 400,000 people in the north-central region may be suffering from kidney disease, said doctors taking part in the release of the report. They added that in the past two decades, as many as 22,000 people may have died as a result.