Glyphosate Exposed: Finding Harmony with Nature’s Alternatives

The image shows a warning sign and a man spraying Glyphosate.  He has a mask on with a ventilator and is fully covered. This is showing how dangerous to health the chemical is.  Garden Faerie Botanicals only uses organic methods for growing food and seed.  Heirloom Seeds, Canada

What Is Glyphosate?

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is a widely-used herbicide that effectively targets a variety of plant species in various settings such as agriculture, forestry, home lawn and garden, and industrial zones for weed control and plant growth management. Glyphosate has been widely used, but current events have brought up possible health issues connected to it. Lawsuits against Bayer, the company behind Roundup, claim that exposure to the product led to the development of diseases like non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Glyphosate, a commonly used herbicide, has been associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in many studies and has led to nearly $11 billion in legal claims against its manufacturer, Bayer. It is widespread in the environment and presents potential health hazards to various animals, including humans.

How Does Glyphosate Work?

Glyphosate acts by blocking the production of key proteins in plants, affecting the enzyme pathway responsible for creating amino acids essential for the growth and survival of various organisms. Glyphosate is sprayed on leaves by users, affecting a specific pathway. It is a herbicide that moves through the phloem and kills plants all the way to the roots. Certain seeds and crops, such as Roundup Ready crops, are genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate. This enables farmers to spray glyphosate on entire fields, eliminating weeds while keeping the crops unharmed. Glyphosate has been the top herbicide choice in the U.S. since 2001 and holds that title worldwide. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service states that Glyphosate is found in Roundup and other products. Glyphosate, initially appearing in 1974 in Roundup, now has over 750 products available. Rodeo and Touchdown are among other well-known weed killers containing glyphosate. In 2018, Bayer acquired Roundup from Monsanto. By 2023, Bayer committed to reformulate their residential Roundup products to eliminate glyphosate. However, glyphosate is still present in Roundup products designed for agricultural and large-scale purposes.

Potential Consequences of Being Exposed to Glyphosate

Exposure to glyphosate can result in a range of side effects, with the severity determined by toxicological factors, the level of exposure, and duration. Common health problems often arise from inhalation or skin contact. Potential health effects from being exposed to glyphosate are:

  • Asthma
  • Feeling a burning sensation in the mouth and throat.
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye irritation
  • Increased saliva
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory irritation
  • Skin irritation
  • Vomiting

Research from the National Pesticide Information Center indicates that although glyphosate isn’t easily absorbed through the skin, ingestion can be deadly. Studies also reveal that glyphosate is eliminated from the body through urine and feces without altering its chemical structure.

The Potential Health Impacts of Glyphosate

During January 2024, a Philadelphia jury concluded that a man in Pennsylvania developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to Roundup containing glyphosate. Numerous lawsuits suggest a connection between cancer and Roundup, although differing opinions exist among researchers and regulatory bodies. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” in 2015, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a differing opinion. Recent studies have indicated potential associations, such as a study in Leukemia and Lymphoma in 2023 linking exposure of certain herbicides like glyphosate with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Another study in 2019 showed a 41% higher risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma with significant Roundup exposure. Certain European Union countries have opted for banning glyphosate due of health concerns, while Bayer settled nearly $11 billion in Roundup lawsuits in the U.S. regarding cancer allegations linked with glyphosate exposure.

Sources of Glyphosate Exposure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that around 81% of Americans over the age of 6 have been exposed to glyphosate. Glyphosate has been detected in various fruits, fruit juices, vegetables, grains, and cereals. Contact with products containing glyphosate can happen when it is applied. Inhaling glyphosate particles may occur when spraying the chemical. Residue that ends up on crops can be harmful for both humans and animals in terms of consumption. Consuming meat from animals fed with glyphosate-treated grain or grasslands may lead to glyphosate exposure. Glyphosate is present in food and water due to contamination. Glyphosate was detected in 95% of the wheat samples tested during multiple rounds of testing commissioned by the Environmental Working Group, raising concerns about its potential impact on public health from exposure in food and drinking water. The foods identified by EWG that contain glyphosate are:

  • Chicken flour
  • Crackers
  • Dried pasta
  • Lentils
  • Oats
  • Pizza The safe level of glyphosate in food is determined by the EPA and ranges from 0.1 parts per million to 400 parts per million, based on the type of food. Many food safety regulatory bodies consider the levels of glyphosate in food safe for humans, although there are experts who raise concerns about the potential health impacts from prolonged exposure to this powerful chemical. Residue seeping into groundwater and potentially contaminating drinking water sources is a concern. Additionally, runoff during periods of heavy rain can lead to contamination of lakes, rivers, and other water sources. Glyphosate is identified as a primary contaminant under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, with a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal set at 0.7 parts per million (ppm) based on health risks and exposure.

Suggestions for Minimizing Glyphosate Exposure

To minimize exposure to glyphosate and other harmful chemicals, consider the following strategies:

  • Embrace Organic Gardening: Utilize organic and natural gardening practices that avoid all synthetic chemicals.
  • Grow Your Own Food: Use heirloom seeds to grow your own food, ensuring it is free from harmful pesticides.
  • Avoid Known Risks: NEVER use glyphosate-based products like Roundup. Awareness and avoidance of areas treated with such chemicals can significantly reduce exposure.
  • Choose Safe Foods: Be cautious about consuming the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables known for high pesticide levels unless they are certified organic.
  • Educate Yourself and Others: Understanding where and how glyphosate is used can help you make informed decisions about reducing personal and environmental exposure.

Round-up known for killing weeds. However, it may pose risks to the plants and vegetables in our gardens. Its use can allow glyphosate to seep into the soil and water, potentially affecting not only weeds but the entire garden ecosystem. This can decrease soil fertility and harm beneficial organisms like earthworms and pollinators, which are essential for maintaining healthy gardens. Additionally, concerns about the safety of consuming vegetables from areas treated with Roundup persist due to ongoing debates about its health effects. ( If it kills life, then what will it do to you?) As a result, many gardeners are turning to safer alternatives like manual weeding, organic mulches, and natural herbicides to protect our gardens and ensure they remain in top condition for growing food security.

By implementing these practices, you can protect your health, your family, and the environment from the potential dangers associated with glyphosate.

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