If you’re a regular reader, you already know my feelings about Roundup, and, more specifically, about Monsanto, its manufacturers.
But I’m centring today’s post on Roundup, because of a petition recently pinged to me by www.sumofus.org.
Let’s be clear here: Roundup is the most widely-used weed killer in the world. I hazard a guess that either you are using this yourself, or its active ingredient, under a different brand name (as I will explain in a moment).
Given this, there is work to do and awareness to build. But nothing is more powerful than individuals voting with their wallets.
More importantly, it’s not just Roundup you should be boycotting; it’s any weed killer containing the active ingredient GLYPHOSATE, which is what I believe was specifically being investigated most recently. (So why www.sumofus.org decided to concentrate solely on Roundup, I’m not sure; many other weed killers contain it).
It’s not often that I sign petitions, as in line with the principles of Abraham-Hicks, I try my very hardest not to give energy and attention to the things I don’t want. (The majority of petitions are, after all, mostly about things people want to put a stop to, rather than something they want more of. Human nature is a funny thing.)
But every now and then, I have to make like Will Young by breaking every rule I’ve ever made.
So, I signed. The petition was directed at Amazon, asking them to refrain from selling Roundup, which potentially affects every organism within its range (including you), and leaches into our water system through the soil, potentially affecting generations to come.
In explanation, glyphosate, has just had a narrow escape from being labelled as a “known” human carcinogen by an international group of cancer experts.
Instead, it’s been designated the slightly-less risky status of “probable”.
Even at this slightly lesser level of condemnation, it’s still a far cry from Monsanto’s description of Roundup in the past as “safe as table salt”.
More of that in a moment, but first, here’s what I’m proposing to you:
What YOU need to do
My call to action today is that once you’ve read the details below, you share this link, or simply print off this post, and take it to your local Roundup stockist and everyone you know who is a professional or amateur gardener.
If you know someone who gardens for a living, they REALLY need to know this; they are potentially risking their own health on a daily basis.
But it’s not just the Roundup brand you need to kick out of your garden shed or to encourage garden centres to stop selling. It’s EVERYTHING containing GLYPHOSATE, the key ingredient. And there are many others. Just read the label before you buy anything of this nature.
And don’t just pour it down the drain – take it to your local tip and ask them to dispose of it carefully.
Yes, Roundup/glyphosate works. Bravo. But so does amputating your arm when you want to relieve the nagging pain of tennis elbow.
The latest from the research experts
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – which is, scarily, part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) – announced that the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, probably causes cancer in humans. And that’s as far as they were willing to go.
According to a report in Harper’s Magazine (USA), the IARC considered labelling it as a “known human carcinogen”, before making its final decision.
How on earth you sit on the fence for a while between the two is anybody’s guess. Either it does cause cancer, or it doesn’t. So for me, personally, therein lies the answer. I’m not willing to take the chance. Nor am I willing to risk buggering up the entire eco-system of my garden. Or risk the health of my beloved Eric, a cat who sniffs practically every green thing in my garden whenever he ventures out.
According to the information published by www.sumofus.org the only reason Roundup didn’t make the dubious grade of “known carcinogen” was because of “a lack of a link in a study on Iowa and Californian farmers. WTF?!?!?
The poisonous legacy of Roundup: the Vietnam War
Glyphosate is the generic name for Roundup. Monsanto were the first to discover its efficiency as a herbicide. You can read more detail about Monsanto and the agricultural-social-environmental effects of Roundup in the links at the bottom of this post, but for now, we’re talking what YOU or YOUR GARDENER puts on your garden/driveway to defeat the dandelions.
Glyphosate was also the primary active ingredient in Agent Orange, used by the US forces during the Vietnam War to deforest vast areas in order to expose the enemy. And yes, this too was formulated by Monsanto.
40 MILLION LITRES came into contact with 3 MILLION PEOPLE, not to mention thousands of acres of land at the time.
40+ years on, and these areas have inexplicably high cancer rates and genetic malfunctions, and birth defects.
Other research on glyphosate
The following illnesses have been linked, GLOBALLY to glyphosate:
- Acute respiratory illnesses (Pease, 1993)
- A KNOWN carcinogen (Lund, 1986; Lijinsky, 1974; Sittig, 1980)
- Testicular tumors, thyroid cancer in females, and kidney tumors in test animals (U.S.EPA 1982;1983;1985;1991)
- Gene mutations and reproductive toxicant (MBTOC, 1995)
- Severe eye and skin irritant which is sometimes quite severe and can persist for months (Temple & Smith, 1992)
- Impaired lung function, throat irritation, coughing and breathlessness in workers exposed to dust of flax treated with Roundup, as compared to those exposed to untreated flax dust. (Jamison, 1986)
- Salivary gland abnormalities related to changes in adrenalin levels when lab animals were exposed to glyphosate. Changes were also observed in the kidney, liver, and thymus of the animals (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
- Causes cardiac arrest (UNEP/WHO/ILO 1994)
- Extremely destructive to tissue of the mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract (Sigma Chemical, 1994)
- And more recently, in May 2014, it has been linked with a spate of deaths from a deadly kidney disease:
A safer alternative for you, your gardener, and the environment
As you can imagine, at Hippocrates, where I spent 10 weeks on the Health Educator Program, they don’t use any chemicals. But they have a vast garden to tend, and an unenviable number of weeds to control.
At my own home, I pick out the weeds by hand. I’m a bit OCD about it, and if I’ve been away for any length of time, I have been known to dump my suitcases on the driveway and start pulling out what’s grown. (It’s a thing).
But I also rent out a house with a pretty big driveway and Stuart, my friend – and also the guy who is in charge of keeping all things green and ship-shape once a month – is at the end of his tether, because he can’t keep up.
I get it. So I asked the head plant-grower at Hippocrates, Brian Hetrich, for a solution. Here’s what he told us to try (this is in a big quantity, so either make it and store it, or halve/quarter the amount:
BRIAN’S WEED ZAPPER
1 gallon vinegar (any cheap brand will do)
1 cup salt (190g) table salt
1 tbsp liquid soap (an eco-friendly one; the purpose of this is purely to make the solution stick to the leaves) I am going to use Ecover.
If you want to make a large batch, find someone you know who goes to one of those wholesale places like Costco or Makro and buy the vinegar and salt in bulk.
Then get one of those empty pump dispensers sold in garden centres for fertilisers and weed killers, and pour into that.
Use when you can be sure it’s going to be dry for a good few hours to give things time to absorb.
No, it’s not going to be the same as Roundup. It might take a few applications. But at least you know you’ve not added a load of poison to the water system, you’ve not endangered your garden’s ecosystem, and you’ve not posed yourself a health risk, either.
I’ll let you know if it works or not. For now, weeding by hand is the only answer.
And anyway, what’s a weed, at the end of the day, compared to the above???
Other relevant links about Monsanto/Roundup: