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?