There are those that garden organically and there are those that garden chemically. I have done both in the past and currently, I have evolved into a gardener that gardens naturally. What the hell does that mean? It’s pretty simple.
My personal gardening rules are that I do not spray or use chemicals designed to kill things, mostly plants, in my garden that I also eat from. But when it comes to areas of the yard or garden where I need to use a nuclear device to kill a noxious weed, I sometimes rule in favor of saving time and effort.
My go-to chemical when I need firepower to kill has usually been Roundup. Roundup is an herbicide produced by Monsanto, a company that is no stranger to protestors who fight against bioengineered Frankenfoods, chemical overuse and accusations of chemically polluting the environment. Monsanto, in many people’s minds, is the opposite of organic. For me, Roundup has always done the job it claims to, as long as the directions are followed.
Using a harsh chemical like Roundup always makes me feel a little guilty, much like the guilt one feels when slaughtering a farm animal for the family to eat. You feel bad about the killing, but it’s part of the process to get the job done. I consider it a necessary evil.
However, a recent report in the scientific journal Entropy (keep italicized) has me reconsidering my choices about Roundup. The report states that heavy use of Roundup could be linked to a range of health problems and diseases. These include Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers.
The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate and is sprayed over millions of acres of America’s food crops. Residues of glyphosate have been found in food. This study states that these residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues.
“Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” stated the study, authored by Stephanie Seneff at the Massachusetts Institute of Tehnology and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc.
Farmers like Roundup because they can spray it directly on bioengineered crops (mostly produced by Monsanto) that resist Roundup and do not harm the crops. But is the chemical hurting humans down the line?
Unlike other herbicides used solely for crops, Roundup is heavily used by homeowners and landscapers on lawns, gardens and golf courses. It is perhaps the most popular herbicide on the retail market and definitely the most advertised on television. Roundup makes it directly into our communities, our neighborhoods and our gardens. And even if you don’t use Roundup, most likely your neighbors do. And wind does not mind fences.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2007, it is estimated that approximately 185 million pounds of glyphosate was used by U.S. Farmers; double the amount used in 2001.
Monsanto has said for years that glyphosate is safe and has a less damaging impact on the environment than other commonly used chemicals. Even with Monsanto’s own studies claiming it is safe, the EPA is conducting a review of glyphosate with a 2015 deadline to determine if it should be limited.
I know that if I use Roundup in the future on my garden, I’ll think twice about it. At least I’ll put on twice the amount of protective gear if I do.