Glysophate is the world’s best selling herbicide. It is used in over 130 countries for agricultural purposes. In the United States, it is the top selling pesticide used in commercial and residential gardening and golf course or turf maintenance. Nearly 100 million pounds of Glysophate are used annually in US farms and lawns.
How does Glysophate work?
Glysophate is patented by Monsanto under the name Monsanto Roundup. It is the isopropylamine salt of N-phosphonomethyl glycine-a broad spectrum herbicide. It works by killing most plants on contact. As a result, it is used on farms to kill unwanted plants, shrubs and weeds prior to plantation of the main crop. It is even sprayed on certain plants at specific times of the year such as on perennial grasses or on conifers in autumn.
Until recently, Glysophate toxicity has been a highly hushed up issue. Most reports and studies conducted on the chemical claim that the herbicide is “safe toxicologically and environmentally." However, all these reports about its so called low toxicity are only based and touted upon studies conducted on its active ingredients. Different Glysophate products vary based on the content of their inert ingredients. New studies are now questioning these products especially since research has shown presence of Glysophate in the urine of 44% of people tested from 18 different countries around the world. This proves for a fact that Glysophate is never excreted completely from the human body. The herbicide is also usually applied very close to harvest of the crop-which makes it even more likely to be present in the food we eat. In the UK, tests have confirmed this by showing a huge presence of Glysophate in the bread coming from Glysophate treated UK wheat. And, in March of this year, the World Health Organization classified Glysophate as a "probable carcinogen," finally bringing the world's attention to the danger of this product.
So what are the safer alternatives to Glysophate?
Due to its rising environmental concerns, farmers as well as homeowners must become aware about using safer alternatives to Glysophate. These alternatives include natural organic herbicides and plant based phytochemicals that have very low toxicity. Not only do these safer non-toxic elements break down more easily in the environment, they also provide superior weed control when applied through proper scientific techniques like spraying, drenching or painting etc. Some of the categories of these safer, non toxic herbicides include:
- Combination of vinegars and citric acids
- Iron based herbicides
- Herbicidal soaps
- Phytotoxic oils like clove, citronella, pine, peppermint and tea tree
- Corn gluten
- Salt based herbicides.
Is weed control really possible without Glysophate?
Commercial farmers unfortunately have become highly dependent on Glysophate. A report in EU has stated: “Food prices will have to be increased and EU’s share of contribution to world food produce will decrease significantly were the use of Glysophate to be restricted”. Additionally, the use of other pesticides will increase tremendously and also raise the cost to farmers. Glysophate is also crucial to GMO crop production. This makes sense considering the fact that only genetically modified crops can withstand this herbicide-given its very nature that kills all plants including the crop plant and not just the weeds that it eat its food. Glysophate is also heavily used in production of non GMO crops in several European nations including crops like sunflowers, olives, cereals, vines, sugar beet etc.
That being said; organic and non toxic weed control is possible. Crop rotation, the use of aforementioned organic and plant based herbicides and selection of right crop species and varieties can all be utilized for growing healthy crops without use of harmful carcinogens like Glysophate. Integrated weed management can also be used for non chemical weed control.
Serious questions to consider about Glysophate
- Why are tests showing Glysophate in the urine samples?
- Why are public health authorities not conducting tests on Glysophate residue found in humans?
- Why is human food and animal feed rarely tested for this carcinogenic compound?
- What are the health impacts of this herbicide on humans and livestock?
- Why does the toxin not get completely excreted from the body? What happens to the residue left in the blood?
- Who is profiting from the use of this herbicide?
- Why are authorities all over the world allowing applications to grow Glysophate resistant genetically modified crops?
We therefore encourage readers to visit the OEHHA website where one can email and comment whether Glysophate (along with a host of other chemicals) meets the requirements for listing them as causing cancer as listed by Health and Safety Code standards. Make sure you do so before October 5th 2015. Visit the link here for details.