5 Disgusting Facts about Roundup


by Leah Zerbe, online editor for RodaleNews.com

Pesky weeds popping up in your yard? Here’s what to not reach for—Roundup. While glyphosate, the active ingredient in America’s favorite weedkiller, Roundup, has been marketed as “safe” and even “biodegradable,” the science is pouring in, and, well, the results are gross.

1. You’re eating it—in “excessive” levels. The majority of glyphosate dumped onto American land each year isn’t in yards—it’s on your food crops. The most popular genetically engineered (GE) crops planted on millions of U.S. acres each year are designed to withstand heavy dousing of glyphosate. Chemical companies are making a killing on this, since they produce both the unnatural GE seed and the chemical that needs to be used on those seeds. But glyphosate is a systemic chemical, meaning it’s taken up inside of the plants that we—and farm animals—eat. This spring, Norwegian scientists studying U.S. soy found “excessive” levels of glyphosate inside of the soy. Don’t eat tofu? Doesn’t matter: GE corn and soy fall under dozens of different ingredient names in most processed foods.

2. It doubles your risk of lymphoma. A major new review of 44 scientific studies found that glyphosate exposure doubles farmers’ risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The study authors theorize that glyphosate disrupts the normal functioning of white blood cells, throwing your immune system into a sickened, dysfunctional state.

3. It’s raining Roundup. Each year, nonorganic farmers dump millions of pounds of glyphosate on food crops. The levels are so excessive, that the federal scientists recently detected the weed killer in the air and rain. Veteran pesticide-exposure scientist Warren Porter, PhD, professor of environmental toxicology and zoology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, crunched the numbers and found the data collected by the United States Geological Survey scientists reveal exposure that could potentially alter your hormones, leading to obesity, heart problems, and diabetes.

4. It’s annihilating monarchs. Researchers at Iowa State University found that the heavy use of glyphosate has resulted in an 81 percent decrease in the monarch butterfly population. Traditionally, milkweed—the plant monarchs need to reproduce and survive as a species—would rebound after farmers used cultivation to kill weeds, but chemical interventions wipe the plant out. Organic agriculture bans the use of chemical pesticides, so every dollar you shift to organic helps save their foodstuff and more monarch butterflies.

5. It doesn’t work. The kicker? It’s not working! Genetically engineering crop seeds to live through herbicide sprayings that would normally kill the crop is a failed technology and a losing battle. Just as overusing antibiotics led to hard-to-kill, antibiotic-resistant supergerms, abusing weedkillers has fueled the emergence of nearly impossible-to-kill superweeds.

When GE technology was first introduced, chemical companies touted it as a way to reduce chemical use on food crops. But Professor Chuck Benbrook, PhD, a research professor at Washington State University, recently found that between 1996 and 2011, GMO technology actually increased herbicide use by 527 million pounds—that’s an 11 percent bump. And for every pound less of insecticide used, farmers used four pounds more of herbicides.

Because glyphosate-resistant GE crops are failing miserably, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—right now—is considering the approval of an even nastier GE seed designed to survive dousing of glyphosate and the highly toxic, older 2,4-D weed killer. This is called “stacking,” and it’s expected to dramatically increase the amount of 2,4-D used on our food. In fact, approving crops genetically engineered to survive repeated dousings of 2,4-D will likely quadruple pesticide use, according to Dave Mortensen, PhD, weed scientist at Penn State University. That’s bad news, considering 2,4-D has been linked to hypothyroidism, suppressed immune function, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer, among other ills.

We got this!

So how can we get Roundup out of the air, soil, and our bodies? There’s only one way: Buy organic food. In doing so, you’re sending farmers a clear message. Also, join the social media campaign that’s putting pressure on the EPA to reject the new 2,4-D GMO (Dow Agrosciences’ Enlist Duo). Environmental Working Group dubbed this week “2,4-D Awareness Week.” Be sure to share this and other related stories, using #24d and related hash tags.

Need more inspiration to help clean up our food system? Read The Biggest GMO Myths, Busted.

Leah_2014_Head_Shot_5Leah Zerbe is online editor for Rodalenews.com. Prior to working at Rodale, she was the senior online editor at NBCPhiladelphia.com, where she headed up the station’s online “Going Green” initiative, wrote about center city crime and traffic jams, and blogged about her beloved Philadelphia Phillies. She and her husband run a sustainable organic farm in Schuylkill County where they grow vegetables, strawberries, herbs, and flowers, and raise heritage breed chickens.


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21 Responses to 5 Disgusting Facts about Roundup

  1. Alice Green June 3, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Yes, to all you have written, Leah!! I eat only organic food and try to fight GMO’s and Roundup each day. GMO’s and Roundup are not only killing our bees and poisoning our food, they are killing all of us. Slowly but surely, we are are being poisoned and worse of all, we are paying them big bucks to kill us. If we would all stop buying these products and all start buying organic, maybe the greedy producers of these killers would finally get the message. Thank you for speaking out and spreading the truth to all of us.

  2. Margie June 3, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    I have looked everywhere for an organic substitute to kill quack grass in my raspberry patch. Nobody can come up with an alternative. Do you have one. It grows taller than my bushes and chokes out the sun so they don’t grow healthily or produce the way they did.

  3. Maria Luci June 3, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Hi Margie, Organic Gardening mentions Quack Grass in this article: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/lawns-to-love “If the lawn is studded with lots of plantain, thistle, or quack grass, the soil is probably compacted… aerating the soil to reduce compaction will begin to eliminate plantain.”

  4. Leah Z. June 3, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Hi Margie! Have you ever tried a product called BurnOut?

  5. Deb June 4, 2014 at 4:21 am #

    Years ago we used geese to eat the quackgrass in the strawberry fields. It worked pretty good – before blossom time – then the geese tasted pretty good. ;>

    It always sounds good to say, ‘just buy organic and big farm business will get the idea’ – but the reality is the majority of people don’t understand what the chemicals are doing and that they are in everything. Even finding it in the rain! Wow! And many people have been spoiled by the prices on the subsidized crops and only buy cheap – then there are those who can only afford cheap. ;<

    We can make the best choices for ourselves and our families, try to spread the truth as much as possible, and pray a lot. Small drop in a big bucket.

  6. Penny June 4, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Many weeds show up because the soil is missing something. They will often pull nutrients from deep in the soil, up to the surface.

    Most weeds can’t successfully be grown as a crop and harvested for mass use because good, balanced, worked soil is not hospitable to them (this is one of the reasons they become known as “weeds” – for example, the Dandelion).

    Try and figure out what is missing in your yard if you have a weed problem. If it’s Dandelions, then you need to balance the soil acidity/alkalinity. Clover indicates you have high nitrogen. Bindweed indicates poor drainage.
    Do a bit of research on the weeds you are trying to get rid off and make the area inhospitable for them instead of fighting them every year. You’ll learn a bit, improve your soil and you won’t need to use the chemical killers.

  7. Kirsten June 4, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    Last year I noticed some blue residue on the beds at my daughter’s school, beds that the kids played in consequently turning their clothes and hands blue. With the appearance of blue I noticed the death of weeds, so I investigated. Turns out the school district sprays Roundup to control weeds in and around the schools. I complained and they assured me that Roundup was safe. I complained to the principal, the superintendent, the parent council at our school (which I was a voting member of). While people expressed surprise, nobody was shocked enough to protest to the school district, and I alone was just ‘one of those parents’. My kids now go to a Waldorf school which promotes environmental education and organic gardening. If we return to public school I will continue to make a stink.

  8. Doc Ault June 4, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    Farmers can hire contractors (just regular people) to pick and make bio fuel from the weeds. Yes, people will do these jobs at a fair price. Country person speaking from experience.

  9. Caryopteris June 4, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    Er, clover indicates you have LOW nitrogen in your soil. Clover can pull nitrogen out of the air. Tilling it in increases the nitrogen in soil.

  10. Dana June 4, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    How many millions of people are starving in third world Countries because they will not allow chemicals? Millions.

  11. Franklin Susen June 4, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    What a load of crap. People can think what they want, but thanks to Roundup, we have food to eat.

  12. Ann June 5, 2014 at 5:20 am #

    How about using white vinegar on weeds? I started using it on my brick walk way and it does the job well.

  13. Anne Bevan June 5, 2014 at 6:13 am #

    Can exposure to Round Up cause nerve damage in humans and animals?

  14. Glenda Temple June 5, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    Mix together 1 gallon of white vingear, 2 cups of Epsom salt and 1/4 cup of dawn dish soap. (The blue original) mix and spray in the morning after the dew has evaporated. Go back later that day and weeds will be gone

  15. Melissa June 5, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    The mixture of vinegar, Epsom and dawn- didn’t work. I did that 3 days ago. They are alive and thriving!

  16. Jean cabral June 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    All the literature states the only thing that will get rid of Black Swallow Wort is Roundup Pro. Directly applied to cut stems. The BSW chokes everything and takes over gardens yards fields…what to do?

  17. Jim Barnett June 5, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    Funny as far as I know the only thing in Round Up is water salt and electrolics. The sales man did a demo about 30 years ago when I worked for the Co op the guy drank a cup of it, a few years ago I seen him and he said he never got sick from it.

  18. BP June 7, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    It’s funny how the untrained people don’t like chemicals… Well get rid of your makeup. Get rid of gas and oil! Those are all chemicals? It’s pretty funny people say eat organic. Well hate to say organics are sprayed to…. Poisonous mushrooms and flowers are “organic” eat one see how long you live! No ag chemicals no food. Plain and simple… No chemicals on alfalfa no cows = no meat no milk. No chemicals on cotton= no clothes. Take the chemicals away see how fast the family starves and runs out of clothes. And if you were one of the lucky ones that could afford food… Good luck sharing with the worms and bugs! People need to get a clue ….

  19. Truth June 13, 2014 at 1:09 am #

    Isn’t it amazing how the preponderance of solid evidence against the ignorant unbridled use of man’s chemical “improvement over the natural” has brought out the chemical companies’ shills! Gushing out the “wonders” of dousing poisons on our food, soil, air and even rain, they practically invite us to drink a cup of roundup! I daresay, if we knew the truth about the man who supposedly drank it, he probably is in a grave (or hospice). The facts are there.
    And apparently so are the paid chem company spokespeople ready to deny them.
    Buy organic!! Don’t be duped by the people who cheerfully poison you at your local grocery store for 99¢ a pound wrapped in words like “heart healthy”, and “fresh and natural”.

  20. Lesley @ Earthora June 15, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    I use plain white vinegar sprayed neat onto weeds and it kills them dead. I don’t like to use chemicals for anything, I only wear chemical and cruelty free makeup for very special occasions. There are ways to do everything without chemicals, you only need to Google your problem and you will come up with a multiture of organic and chemical free solutions. There is no need to support Monsanto and their evil chemical preparations.

  21. Ricardo August 14, 2014 at 12:25 am #

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