Report raises concerns over ‘Roundup’

Glyphosate, better known as “Roundup,” is one of the most common weed killers used in Rainy River District. But a report by an American-based group is raising doubts about the safety of this herbicide.
A report printed in “Nature Alert,” by the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, contended:
•in tests done by Monsanto, glyphosate sprayed on soil took up to 140 days to break down, and residues off the chemical were found in lettuce, carrots, and barley planted one year after the treatment;
•glyphosate can drifted up to 400 m during ground applications and 800 m during aerial applications;
•it is acutely toxic to human beings;
•glyphosate can maintain its toxicity over time;
•“Roundup” contains extra toxic “trade secret ingredients,” such as polyethoxylated tallowamines, which can cause nausea and other health problems;
•kills beneficial insects, and proves hazardous to earthworms; and
•inhibits mycorrhizal fungi, reduces nitrogen fixing bacteria, and can increase the spread or severity of plant diseases.
Gary Sliworsky, the local Ag and Rural rep at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs office in Emo, said he couldn’t comment on how “Roundup” affects the fungi and nitrogen fixing bacteria, nor did have any information on how it affects earthworm population.
But he questioned the report’s claim on the length of time it takes for “Roundup” to break down.
“That goes against everything out there,” Sliworsky said, noting studies done by the ministry indicate “Roundup” sprayed at recommended rates breaks down the instant it touches the soil.
“There’s not enough information [in the report] to say how the tests were done,” he added, noting he would need to know at what concentration the chemical was applied.
He did agree much of the article did contain points that were true but overstated. He noted any sprayed pesticide–be it “Roundup” or otherwise–can drift if there is a breeze.
“People applying pesticides should take every precaution to prevent drift,” he stressed. “They tell you specifically [in the instructions].”
As for the toxic danger to humans and beneficial bugs “Roundup” poses, Sliworsky said that isn’t a secret.
“A lot of the directions, for that reason, tell you to be careful,” he said, adding safety precautions are “addressed clearly on the label.” Similar precautions also exist for farmers who wish to maintain insect populations in their fields, such as honey bees.
Although “Roundup” is the most common glysophate herbicide, other brands with the chemical include “Clear-it,” “Renegade,” and “Wrangler.”