Roundup: Killer of weeds, soil and food nutrition

Most everyone has heard the television advertisements regarding the lawsuits about Roundup and what exposure has done to the health of individuals exposed to it. These lawsuits claim that it is carcinogenic and farmers, landscape personnel, and anyone exposed to this chemical for prolonged periods of usage are susceptible to cancer and remediation. With this background, it is important to look at some facts about Monsanto’s Roundup.

Roundup, is well known for farm usage to keep weeds under control on croplands. It is also known for its use on residential properties to keep weeds under control. All told, the United States alone utilizes 300 million pounds of Roundup annually. The primary chemical in Roundup, glyphosate, was originally used in 1964 to clean boilers and steam parts. It descaled corrosive materials because it was a mineral chelator,  which is a chronically toxic chemical: it grabs on to minerals and demobilizes them.  

When Roundup is sprayed on cropland, it kills weeds. This usually occurs within 3-5 days of exposure. Glyphosate attacks the root system of the weed, and at the same time chelates out essential nutrients in the soil that are necessary to the growth of plants. So, the weed is starved of essential nutrients it needs  to continue to grow, and dies off. The nutrients in the soil, like nitrogen, phosphorous and many others, are chelated, or demobilized by the chemical. People will notice that the weeds are dying, but the crops in the same field are not.

Many plants now are glyphosate resistant or GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) developed plants that are not affected by Roundup. They are designed to grow even on a glyphosate sprayed fields. One might say this is pretty amazing science until you look below the surface of what is really happening in the soil and in the plants.  

Consider the soil. Once glyphosate is sprayed on the soil, it stays there for a while. According to Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology at Purdue University, glyphosate has a residual lifetime of anywhere from 1.5 to 22 years. Eventually, this makes the soil ‘sterile’, and stimulates soil pathogens to emerge. Continuing to utilize glyphosate, as most farmers do, repeats this process of leaching essential minerals from the soil. Poor soil, in turn, causes poor nutrition in plants. Then, since the soil is subject to soilborne diseases, the plants do not have an ideal environment to grow and thrive. Since nutrients have been chelated out, that reduces nutrient uptake in the plants. Plants are also compromised because they simply cannot work as efficiently. According to Dr. Huber, GMO plants also have reduced water efficiency, which means glyphosate plants take two times as much water to grow because the plant is less efficient. This is so, again, because the chelated soil compromises the entire growing process. 

Livestock that feed on the crops produced on glyphosate fields are also affected. It requires more food to feed cattle because plant nutrition is compromised, requires more supplements to maintain the nutrition needed to maintain health, and more use of antibiotics to keep livestock healthy. This is true for beef, pig, poultry or any other meat based product.

It also affects the general public, because livestock is affected by the soil and plant environment contaminated by Roundup, which means the general public is eating less nutritious food, with more antibiotics and other chemicals designed to keep livestock healthy due to reduced enriched food sources.  Even a vegan diet is affected unless it is grown on certified organic soils.

Once the gene environment is disrupted, according to Dr. Huber, unexpected viruses or other gene products begin to emerge new to current science. This may explain why there is a higher frequency of  human genetic diseases emerging like diabetes, Crohn’s disease, leaky gut syndrome, colitis, celiac disease, and autism. Infertility issues have become more frequent and there is a 59% decrease in sperm viability in humans today. Bees are dying since they pollinate on glyphosate fields, and rivers and streams are contaminated because water run off from farm fields flow directly into them and into our Great Lakes causing a ‘green’ Lake Erie. Fish die, but we still eat fish that exist in waters from glyphosate saturated fields.

So what is the solution since we have mega corporate farms now designed to feed an overpopulated planet? Some farmers, like Chuck Lievens of Blissfield, plants radishes that decompose to replenish the lost nutrients that are immobilized by glyphosate. He also uses “nutritious”  ground cover during winter to add nutrients to the soil.  Small to medium sized farmers are much better stewards of our farmlands than corporate farms.

We could also communicate to Monsanto that it engaged in deceptive advertising regarding their glyphosate product, in that it negatively affects our soils, compromises our plant nutrition, and contaminates the drinking water on our planet. This affects every aspect of consumption along the human food chain. This is not a sustainable chemical for an already compromised planet.  

— Deborah J. Comstock
Farm Owner, Adrian, Michigan
Board Member, Lenawee Indivisible


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