For more than 40 years, U.S. farmers have used glyphosate to kill weeds before planting corn feed for livestock. More recently glyphosate is being used by farmers growing Roundup-Ready GMO crops and as a desiccant, to speed the harvest of grain crops like wheat, oats and barley, as well as edible beans and several other crops. Such “harvest aid” uses of glyphosate involve spraying fields about two weeks prior to harvest. According to a February 2016 study in Environmental Sciences Europe, glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide.
Stauffer Chemical Co. first patented glyphosate as a mineral chelator in 1964. Then in 1974, Monsanto introduced this chelator as an herbicide. Conventional farmers spray glyphosate on genetically engineered corn, oats, soybeans and wheat before it is harvested. Consumers also use glyphosate on their lawns and gardeners.
As we discuss glyphosate it’s important to know these facts:
- Americans have applied 1.8 million tons of glyphosate since its introduction in 1974.
- Worldwide, 9.4 million tons of the chemical has been sprayed on fields – enough to spray nearly half a pound of Roundup on every cultivated acre of land in the world.
- Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since so-called “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996.
- The mass-spraying of glyphosate has led to the explosion of resistant weeds, which have evolved to survive despite being sprayed. Already, weeds resistant to the herbicide are found on half of all-American farmers’ fields and are present on upward of 100 million acres of cultivated cropland.
- In 1987, only 11 million pounds of the chemical were used on U.S. farms, but now nearly 300 million pounds of glyphosate are applied each year.
- Glyphosate is the key ingredient in Bayer/Monsanto’s signature herbicide Roundup. The World Health Organization and California state scientists have linked glyphosate to cancer.
- At the time of writing this blog there are 42,000 plaintiffs suing Bayer over claiming glyphosate caused cancer.
Important Glyphosate News:
Recently, you may have noticed that glyphosate is blanketing the news in large part because Monsanto was recently ordered to pay $289 million in damages after a jury found the pesticide giant liable for causing a school groundskeeper’s cancer. (I think we should add in the other cases that went to trial and the plaintiffs won) If you’re looking to get caught up on anything you may have missed, we’ve pulled together the most current news on glyphosate here:
- France to ban 36 glyphosate products by end of 2020
- Community-Led Efforts to Ban Glyphosate in Public Spaces Pick up Speed
- Roundup weedkiller: 42,000 plaintiffs sue Bayer over glyphosate
- EWG analysis has found that popular children’s foods like cereal, granola bars, and instant oatmeal come with a hefty dose of glyphosate, the cancer-causing ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup.
- Weedkiller in $289 million cancer verdict found in oat cereal and granola bars
- Jurors say Roundup contributed to a 2nd man’s cancer.
- $2 Billion Verdict Against Monsanto Is Third to Find Roundup Caused Cancer
- Glyphosate shown to disrupt microbiome ‘at safe levels’, study claims
- Weedkiller products more toxic than their active ingredient, tests show
- Two Bay Area cities go Roundup-free following cancer ruling against Monsanto
- Bayer considering stopping sales of glyphosate to private users
- Kellogg’s commits to reducing widely used herbicide in supply chain
- Anticipation Builds For Settlement of Roundup Cancer Claims
Frequently Asked Questions About Glyphosate:
- Is Glyphosate Contaminating Certified Organic?:
The short answer is yes, it is. Though, the good news is that the levels found from contamination are extremely low. All farmers are subjected to contamination from the environment in which those crops are grown. Recently we’ve seen products tested showing small trace amounts of glyphosate contamination. Organic farmers are subjected to contamination of their crops from conventional neighbors that may be using glyphosate or Roundup to dry their crops or curb weeds. Organic farmers are highly regulated through the certification process and monitored heavily. If contamination from any chemical including glyphosate exists Farmers cannot sell that crop as certified organic. By purchasing certified organic you are voting for a future without glyphosate being sprayed in or near your community.
- How Can I Avoid Glyphosate?:
The number one question, you might be asking is, how can we avoid glyphosate in our food and communities? The answer is, choose certified organic foods. Organic farmers cannot use glyphosate at any point in food production. Our brand partners at Stonyfield have a program called “StonyFIELDS Play Free” in which they are educating consumers about the high use of chemicals being used in their parks such as glyphosate. They explain how a survey led them to take on this issue and launch the StonyFIELDS Play Free campaign:
“In a recent survey†, we found that while the majority of American parents (69%) are looking to lessen exposure to pesticides in food, nearly the same number of parents (67%) do not consider sports fields, playgrounds and parks to be of concern. Yet most of the playing fields and parks kids play on are treated with a chemical cocktail of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Many of the commonly used chemicals are either proven or likely endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with the development of children’s immune, reproductive, and metabolic systems. Today, 68% of US parents are more likely to buy a product labeled organic, their primary reason being to avoid pesticides, but we believe food is just one part of the preventative health equation – and we want to help families and communities avoid toxic chemicals in their food and beyond.”
Why Are High Levels Showing Up On Oats?:
Glyphosate is showing up predominately in food made with oats because oats and wheat are sprayed with glyphosate to kill the crop right before harvesting. It is a practice that is not necessary and should be stopped. Companies need to step up and make sure their products are free of glyphosate before they hit store shelves.
We hope this blog was helpful in cutting through the various issues around glyphosate and Roundup. Please share this information with friends and choose organic to avoid the dangers of glyphosate.