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Plants versus Glyphosate?

Plants need to be taken care of. Controlling weeds is one way to do that. It can help maintain the health and beauty of your outdoor space, protect your plants, and reduce potential hazards. However, not all weed killers are just for weeds.


One of these harmful herbicides is named Roundup. It's a brand of widely used weed killer, or herbicide, containing the active ingredient glyphosate. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in commercial agriculture in the U.S. Each year, agricultural workers apply 280 million pounds of glyphosate to 298 million acres(2019 EPA report). 


Glyphosate has my forms and is used commonly in residential weeds. People like you and me are using glyphosate every time we spray our plants with Roundup. Once Roundup is applied to a plant, the glyphosate is absorbed into the plant's sap stream. Subsequently, Roundup moves to the plant's roots, where it effectively eliminates the roots, shoots, and leaves of the plant.


Unfortunately, the Glyphosate in the Roundup is the problem. 


Glyphosate does not discriminate between unwanted weeds and desired plants, effectively killing any plant it comes into contact with. Certain formulations of Roundup can start to kill plants within just a few hours of application.


Glyphosate works by inhibiting the enzyme EPSP synthase, a key contributor to plant growth. This inhibition hampers the plant's ability to synthesize essential amino acids required for growth. After absorption by the plant's stems and leaves, glyphosate is transported to the roots. At the root level, glyphosate interferes with the plant's capacity to absorb nutrients from the soil, ultimately resulting in the plant's demise.


According to the EPA, there are “no risks of concern to human health from current uses of glyphosate” if products are used as directed. In contrast to the findings of the EPA, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization determined that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans." This conclusion was drawn from animal studies showing "strong evidence" of glyphosate's potential to harm cell DNA, with some studies indicating an increased tumor incidence in mice exposed to glyphosate(NPR). 


Several alternatives to Roundup for weed control include mulch, herbicidal soap, corn gluten meal, vinegar, manual weed removal, and iron-based herbicides. Additionally, certain organic herbicide brands are available, although they tend to be most effective on newly sprouted weeds.


There are homemade weed killer recipes using ingredients like vinegar, salt, and dish soap. However, it's essential to note that this mixture can be more toxic than glyphosate if ingested. Therefore, it's crucial to store it away from children and pets(Drugwatch). 


However, it may affect food as well. The Environmental Working Group conducted multiple rounds of testing on food to detect the presence of glyphosate. They discovered glyphosate in 95% of the tested wheat samples. The presence of glyphosate in food and drinking water raises concerns regarding its potential public health impact.


To address the contamination of water and soil and the slow breakdown of this herbicide, it's crucial to take proactive steps in minimizing exposure. 

 




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