A highland fling

our wee adventure on the Black Isle

Herbicides – saviour or demon?


I read a couple of rather scary articles about glyphosate use today. What is glyphosate, you ask? Well, it’s the most popular herbicide in the world, sold by one of the huge agrichemical firms – you’d know the name, for sure.

I had read scare stories before, but figured that they were mostly written by the luddites who think we all still farm by hand. But this article, and others I found when digging further, have actually been written by such luminaries as the “Institute of Science in Society”, and others. And the earliest articles started appearing in 2005. But has this information really come into the public domain? I’m not sure.

So, what’s it all about? Ecologists say that in Argentina, where the chemical is bulk-sprayed on fields, many more cancers and birth defects than you’d expect have been reported.

And the latest – the herbicide actually prevents good plants from obtaining the micro nutrients they need from the soil, making for less healthy plants that are able to fight off disease, even to the extent that “sudden death syndrome” of the crop can result. (Take a look at the photos in the related article, below – it’s frightening) It is claimed also that fungal disease is more prevalent in areas where this herbicide is used.

So why should we care? I care, because glyphosate has been extremely heavily used in our area of Spain for years. I get why – it made it possible for the first time for the small farmer to farm more easily. It must have seemed like a miracle when it was first sold. Absolute magic. No longer did a man have to hoe the field to remove weeds – just spray, and voila! No more weeds. But after 50 years of heavy spraying (often at higher-than-recommended concentrations), the land in places looks like a moonscape. Nothing will grow, quite literally.

I also care because the latest thing is to plant “Roundup ready” seed – meaning that when the field is sprayed with glyphosate, the grain will live, the weeds will die. Magic again, right? But, logically, doesn’t that mean that the chemical will end up in our food system?

Shouldn’t we be at least a little worried?

Author: Ann Larson

One-time IT executive who lives on a 22 acre olive farm in Spain with husband Kenton and 2 boxer dogs. We make Yunquera Gold olive oil, and soap and skincare products from same. We aim to make natural, fresh, and handmade products at affordable prices!

2 thoughts on “Herbicides – saviour or demon?

  1. Glyphosate was a patented product sold under the brand name of Roundup and until it’s patent expired a few years ago Roundup was the only produce you could buy containing glyphosate. However ‘now’ there are many brands being marked containing glyphosate and can be purchased off the shelf by anyone.

    I at one time championed glyphosate and it’s miracle weed killing ability. As I have used glypgosate products and others have discovered, it’s not a miracle weed killer is a dangerous chemical and should have been banned many years in the past. It is dangerous to humans, pets, livestock and your farm and garden soil.


    • I could echo your experiences 100%. It is still used heavily around here, making life just a little more difficult for those of us who choose more natural methods.

      I spent 3 hours hoeing and weeding our vegetable garden – something that many here accomplish with herbicides. It would take them 15 minutes what took me 3 hours, so I understand the imperative.