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What do you think about Glyphosate? Options
Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2017 9:32:37 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/25/2017
Posts: 1,205
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Location: Berlin, Berlin, Germany
As the title says: What do you think about Glyphosate? And why?
As to why I start this topic: Today Germany's environment minister announced that she will fight against license for Glyphosate in the EU for the next 10 years. Of course she doesn't stand a chance against the giant pharmaceutical lobby which urged the EU committee to even consider a 10-year admission (so far, the licenses had to be renewed every year). If they win and this stuff is applied within the next decade, the whole "carcinogenic-or-not?"-discussion won't perk up again.
So, there are certain pros and cons about this compound. It effectively kills weeds and is easily synthesized. There have been extensive studies whether it will cause cancer or not. But: I may cause cancer. It is toxic to bodies of water and to the eyes. It is not easily degraded and therefore accumulates everywhere (also in our bodies). And, as is the same with antibiotics, its effect wouldn't last forever. Once the weeds became resistant to it, we have to figure out something new.
Normally (at least with new drugs) it goes like this: You find a new compound which might be useful, you test it very extensively (analyzing not only its toxic effects but also its functions and working mechanisms) and then distribute it. However, to me it seems that with Glyphosate it just went the other way round. Eh? So maybe this whole "10-years-or-not"-discussion doesn't really hit the point but we rather have to take a closer look at the laws which deal with the licensing of new "agricultural drugs" (like insecticides, herbicides and the like).
Tell me, what do you think?

The value of choice is not in the size of the action but in its effect.
Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2017 11:19:49 AM

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Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 8,778
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I can only tell you my experiences with it, and what I know of all the farmers around me that use it. Glyphosate is best known as Roundup, but is also marketed under other names now. It is an herbicide rather than an insecticide. I am more cautious about insecticides because most of them are nerve agents, and to me that makes them much more dangerous. I've always avoided their use.

But as for glyphosate, I've used it, and been exposed to it, for around 36 years now, with no known ill effects. I know of no one else who has been hurt by exposure to it either, but I think most of us try to be very careful with it anyway. That's not to say someone may not have accidentally been bathed in it, or had it sprayed into their eyes or some other accident I don't know about. But unless this has been done, I no of no harm that has come from it to humans. Once, I was even sprayed with it by a crop duster (that wasn't supposed to happen, by the way). But I suffered no ill effects.

As you say, it is toxic to water creatures according to the label, so most people who use it consciously avoid getting it into water. Most people with ponds are rather fond of fishing them, along with streams that are nearby. Even the crop duster planes avoid spraying close to water when readying the crops for harvest. This, in fact, has been going on around me for the last several weeks. This is done because any green material in the harvest when taken to the gins will lower the price.

I'm not sure about your statement of cumulative effect. That is not my experience, nor that of others around me. If the crop is sprayed either by ground rig or by plane, and is not harvested within a week or two, the plants will begin to rebound and become green again, and will continue to grow. So it seems that glyphosate does break down and become ineffective with time.

It's primary use, however, is to kill weeds that take up moisture the crops need to grow. So to increase the yield, farmers kill the weeds, thus producing more food for more animals and people in an increasing population, and to feed people in other countries where food is in short supply.

As with all things, there are trade-offs. So it becomes a matter of what one is willing to trade on one side for a benefit on the other. It may well be that some individuals are sensitive to it. I don't know. Sometimes it takes a while to get enough information to know, but with glyphosate, decades of use have given us a great deal of information about it. But, again, I can only tell you my experiences, and others I know, and those have all been positive. And to date, no crops I know of have become resistant to it.

A great many people will think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. ~ William James ~
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