With growing human health concerns and consumer demands for food produced without glyphosate, some countries in Europe are considering banning its use. What would be the consequence on your farm if it was banned? A major concern from a knee-jerk reaction like banning glyphosate is that farmers will reach for nastier residual herbicides like Paraquat, Dicamba, and 2-4,D.
Research into all of these herbicides will reveal negative impacts on the soil biome, ecosystem, and human health. Glyphosate was a tool that farmers and chemical producers exploited and heavily abused. Looking out an aircraft window in spring and autumn is a sobering experience, revealing farming landscapes checkerboarded yellow with glyphosate right across the planet.
Glyphosate is being delivered into the food chain from “Round-up Ready” crops (which enable liberal dousing onto crops), crop desiccation before harvest, and the practice of feeding animals on sprayed fields/crops. Glyphosate is now in the rainfall, rivers, and, in the US, over 90% of the human population its in their blood. New research has found a strong link between Glyphosate and algal blooms. With links to autism, birth defects, and cancers, there is increasing scrutiny. Eventually this abuse was going to catch up and be revealed to the public.
Glyphosate over-use has been detrimental to farmer bottom lines beyond the increasing impact from herbicide resistant weeds. Glyphosate acts as an antibiotic and binds to minerals, reducing soil biodiversity essential for soil physical health and plant and human nutrition. For producers interested in resilient farming systems and reducing inputs, there are a number of options that don’t involve reaching for bigger hammers...
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**Nicole Masters is a world-renowned soil expert with Integrity Soils in New Zealand.