2016-02-02. Glyphosate Now the Most-Used Agricultural Chemical Ever.

posted Feb 7, 2016, 12:42 PM by Alan Gould   [ updated Feb 7, 2016, 12:44 PM ]
By Douglas Main, Newsweek. For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7. Excerpt: The world is awash in glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, produced by Monsanto. It has now become the most heavily-used agricultural chemical in the history of the world, and many argue that’s a problem, since the substance comes with concerning albeit incompletely-determined health effects. A study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe reveals that Americans have applied 1.8 million tons of glyphosate since its introduction in 1974. Worldwide, 9.4 million tons of the chemical have been sprayed onto fields. For comparison, that’s equivalent to the weight of water in more than 2,300 Olympic-size swimming pools. ...the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer unanimously determined that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”  ...Research has also shown that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it interferes with the proper functioning and production of hormones, in human cell lines.  ...Monsanto says that glyphosate does not pose a threat to humans. ...More obviously, the mass-spraying of glyphosate has led to the explosion of resistant weeds, which have evolved to survive despite being sprayed. Already, weeds resistant to the herbicide are found on half of all American farmers’ fields.... ...the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has relaxed its rules about what it considers a safe level of glyphosate. Fifty times more glyphosate is allowed on corn grain now than in 1996.... The agency has also increased what it considers a safe amount of glyphosate exposure by a factor of 17. ...it is robbing farmers of income, which is diverted to companies that produce herbicides and herbicide-resistant crops like Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn and soybeans. “The bottom line is that at least 30 percent of the net income that used to go to farmers is now going to [these companies],” Benbrook says, and it continues to get worse. That’s frustrating to weed scientists like Mortensen, who knows that there are ways to combat crops without using quite so much herbicide. For example, the use of winter cover crops like wheat can reduce the amount of weeds that grow in the spring, with the additional benefit of reducing erosion and improving water quality....  http://www.newsweek.com/glyphosate-now-most-used-agricultural-chemical-ever-422419