Girl Planting seeds

Glyphosate: An Environmental Crisis

pesticide_shutterstock_crop_463457156I hate to say I told you so, especially when it comes to an environmental health crisis. Most of the time Ihope that I’m worrying about nothing, even though all evidence usually points to the contrary.

Unfortunately, in the recent case of the pesticide Roundup, which contains a chemical called glyphosate as the active ingredient, it seems as if my concerns were more than valid – they were spot-on.

report released earlier this month by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that more than 75 percent of popular breakfast foods they tested – items such as cereal, granola bars, and oatmeal – contained glyphosate at levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health. What’s more, this toxic herbicide that has been linked to cancer was found in all but two of the products made with conventionally grown oats.

This is just the latest in a string of awful news surrounding glyphosate. An herbicide first registered for use in 1974, glyphosate is now one of the most widely used products of its kind in the Unites States, according to the National Pesticide Information Center at Oregon State University (NPIC).  Commercially, it is used by corporations that own farms and other agricultural businesses to grow massive amounts of corn, soy, cotton, and other products. Casually, it is probably used by many of your unknowing neighbors who simply want their lawn and garden to look nice. Sadly, it has also been detected in very small quantities in some childhood vaccines.

One of the major reasons glyphosate has exploded since its inception more than 40 years ago is because genetically modified crops are engineered specifically to resist it. In other words, the crops will not be killed by the chemical, but the weeds will.  Farmers can spray as much glyphosate, typically in the form of Roundup, on a field of plants as they want without worrying that the crops will die too. Roundup’s manufacturer, Monsanto, proudly boasts on its website that glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, and has been adopted in more than 160 countries. It is, quite literally, everywhere.

But perhaps the tide is starting, slowly, to change. In November 2017, nine EU countries voted to ban glyphosate across all member nations. They unfortunately lost by a narrow margin, but the vote itself brought major health and safety issues to light. Just last month, a jury in California ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer, because they agreed that excessive exposure to Roundup and other glyphosate-based products over an extended period of time had caused him to become gravely ill. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate is “probably” carcinogenic to humans. And in 2017, IARC listed glyphosate in its registry of chemicals known to cause cancer, and proposed a No Significant Risk Level of 1.1 milligrams per day for an adult weighing 154 pounds. By this measure, according to the EWG report, 1- to 2-year-old children are being exposed at a level twice as great as this amount.

As we now know, glyphosate is being sold to us en masse in products geared specifically toward kids – cereals and snacks considered wholesome, even some labeled organic. It is more important than ever to avoid eating foods or using personal care products made with genetically modified ingredients. These are the plants that have most likely – if not definitely – been sprayed with glyphosate.  Beyond that, genetically modified foods have been linked to allergies, antibiotic resistance, cancer, and reduced immune function.

What we know about glyphosate is likely minimal compared to what we don’t know – but we are starting to learn more, despite Monsanto’s efforts to the contrary. The more we expose their bad deeds, perhaps the less we’ll be exposed to their poisonous product.

 

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