The Glyphosate Debate in Brief
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide used to kill grasses and broadleaf weeds. Glyphosate is used in many chemical cocktails as the base ingredient with other chemicals added to it to achieve a specific outcome such as to target specific species, to be used in and around water and to be used for specific environments. It works by preventing plants from making certain types of protein needed for growth. Glyphosate stops the shikimic acid pathway which transport amino acids through the plant and some microorganisms.
Raw glyphosate is classed as being toxic but resides in the lowest level of toxicity. When applied in low doses the chemical's harm is minimal to us as far as research has shown. When applied in higher doses, glyphosate throws up controversy as to its safety. As far as we all at Mossy Rock have read and understand the dangers to us and our pets and children are thus:
- Carcinogenic (cancer causing) - most likely not as there is not solid evidence to back this up sufficiently....burnt toast!
- Birth defects - evidence suggests skeletal deformations in fetuses after exposure to Glyphosate. Seen in the cotton villages of India which are now changing their practices but it just shows
- Kidney, Liver and Spleen - found in tested rats, cattle and sheep which is a concern especially as we eat some of that meat
- Affect on the Soil - controversial but in our opinion, if applied regularly, glyphosate will have a long term negative affect on the soil and its inhabitants
- Turf - glyphosate used on and around lawns has had evidence of causing harm to your pets that roll around in the grass according to a few studies (not that convincing)
- Waterways - debated a lot but run off from so many aspects of modern life contribute to this. Animal waste being spread onto fields, silt, chemicals and many more pollutants. We have not seen sufficient evidence to suggest that it is 100% safe in the long term in waterways
Other affects on our lives:
- traces have been found in bread, meat and vegetables. Although this is not hugely harmful in a dose this small, it is still a chemical and continuous consumption and exposure will add up and our opinion is not good...obviously!
Wild Verges & Margins
- when applied via sprayer, the droplets of diluted glyphosate are very light (even the larger ones). These move around in the slightest of breeze or 'drift' as it is know in the industry. Applications of glyphosate based chemicals must be made on days that are as still as possible. This cannot always happen to an ideal extent due to wind corridors, terrain and changeable weather which will always result in some unexpected drift which is managed as best as possible. Roadside verges and field margins get affected by drift which kills many wild flowers and native flora. These create the biodiversity that our mono-cultural farming methods have destroyed in the general sense around many farming areas.
A point on the tests used to enhance the argument for glyphosate's safety - many test methods that I have read fall far short of being a fair and long term representation of the affects of glyphosate. Many are just too short or are just moronic is some cases such as applying maximum 'safe' dosage (why there is a maximum safe dosage if the product has no affect on the environment) to a water body and measure until it became so diluted that the study could no longer detect it and it must have therefore disappeared. On all bottles and labels it is claimed that glyphosate will break down within two weeks. This is controversial as the majority of studies find this to be much longer and to be affected by the environment, weather and soil types. These ranges from 3 days to 6 months to two years with one body saying 3 years which we agree is a little bit of an anomaly.
A Basic Conclusion:
All labeling, every academic report and every other paper or document that we here have read (including all of Monsanto direct literature) all agree on several points. Glyphosate is toxic albeit in the lowest category of toxicity, but toxic none the less and by definition would cause harm. They all advise wearing protective clothing and to treat exposure to your skin, eyes and if inhaled. If glyphosate is so amazingly safe, then why is not classed as being organic?
Should Glyphosate be Banned -
NO, NO and NO. It is generally quite safe and should be used on surfaces such as hard landscaped surfaces as fewer times as possible. There is no large risk of damage to soil life but there is an even greater risk of run off so still minimal applications should be made. Just be mindful of this very useful but still minimally harmful product. It took a long time to find a chemical that has the low toxicity that glyphosate has and it is the best of a bad bunch.
There are many other horticultural and agricultural methods out there that generally work wonders and would benefit the environment so much more that the current methods.
THE BIG POINT
We have still not found one academic report which conclusively states that glyphosate has does not have a long term affect on the environment in anyway. The vast majority of papers have literally a singular line of text saying that 'glyphosate probably will not have a long term affect on the environment'. That is the most positive sentence that I can find!
There are also NO benefits to the environment from glyphosate as a product. Yes it controls invasive species which 90% of the time have been allowed to take control due to us introducing them to the environment or by us disturbing the environment meaning that they thrive. The product does not feed or fertilize the soil. It does not provide food for the insects and animals living in glyphosate soaked areas of land, it does not benefit waterways. It does not add anything to the environment but it only takes away and leaves behind only unhelpful and controversial residues.