On last week’s show Howard Garrett and I only scratched the surface in talking about the problems with the weed killer Roundup®. So, I wanted to review here for those who might not have heard the program and give a little more information to those who did.
What is it? Roundup® is the world’s most widely used weed killer (herbicide). It is used in private yards and in municipal spaces, but the biggest concern is its use in industrial farming. The active ingredient is glyphosate which Monsanto claims (of course) is relatively safe. Accumulating science says otherwise. Also, the supposedly inactive ingredients can make the product up to 1,000 times more toxic. Too often safety testing of each ingredient is done separately, not in the combinations in which they are actually used as glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH). Scientific article.
Why is it used? Chemical giant Monsanto has a really good thing going for their profits. They not only developed the weed killer, they also genetically modified (GMO) food crops to resist its effects. They sold farmers on the idea of planting their GMO corn, soy, beet, cottonseed and canola and then it seems bully them into continuing. Only time will reveal the long-term effects of having spliced in foreign genes to the plants that we eat, but several countries have banned GMO foods. Monsanto also makes sales by encouraging farmers to dry plants out for harvesting by spraying Roundup® on non-GMO crops like wheat, barley, oats, canola, flax, peas, lentils, soybeans, dry beans and sugar cane.
What is the problem? In addition to any concerns about the GMO foods with which it is paired, Roundup® is becoming a global problem in its own right.
- Consumers. The World Health Organization has declared that it probably causes cancer in humans. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believes that it contributes to 3 dozen or more health problems such as Alzheimer’s, anorexia, autism, cancers, cystic fibrosis, IBS, infertility and Parkinson’s disease. It now appears that it encourages the growth of fungi that produce poisonous mycotoxins on crops. You cannot cook those away. New research indicates it may foster breast cancer growth in amounts as small as parts per trillion. Glyphosate is used in over 750 products and the government does not routinely test for residues on food. Roundup® also poisons the friendly bacteria in our systems. Considering the huge and varied number of jobs these little teammates do for us, that is a huge concern.
- Farmers. It is detected in the blood and urine of workers on farms that use it, adding to their toxic burden from the use of pesticides. To quote a study looking into cardiovascular health risks, “Millions of farmers suffer poisoning and death in developing countries, and occupational exposures and suicide make GBH toxicity a worldwide concern.”
- Environment. Just as overuse of antibiotics creates antibiotic-resistant super-bugs, Roundup® creates super-weeds. An even bigger problem is that it kills the beneficial microbes in the soil, which in turn has effects all the way up the food chain. Humans need a great diversity of good bacteria and this practice along with modern farming practices is greatly reducing variety.
- For more details, read this article by Howard.
What can a person do to avoid Roundup toxicity?
- Use natural ways to control weeds. There are many options on Howard’s website: DirtDoctor.com. (He helps us avoid toxic chemicals with natural ways to do most jobs around the house.)
- Buy organic when you can because those foods will not have been grown using Roundup® or other hazardous chemicals.
- Look for foods (especially those made with corn and soy) that carry the NON-GMO Project Verified seal because seems likely that the farmer would have little or no reason to use Roundup®.
- Support organizations like the Environmental Working Group that fight for cleaner food and more transparency.
- Monsanto has so much money and clout that it can lobby very effectively, influence regulators and spin news to their advantage. However, the laws governing poisons are made by legislators. They care most about being re-elected, so make friends with your state and federal law-makers and thereby feel more comfortable talking with them (or writing them) when legislation is pending. There are many bills around that demand that GMO foods are at least labeled as such.