21 November 2016

Is Roundup safe? Part 2

This is dynamite. How did we not know earlier about the many, many dangers associated with Roundup use? How was it covered up for so many years?

So, continuing on from last week… and firstly repeating, it seems that I, like many, was wrong about Roundup and other Glyphosate Based Herbicides (GBHs). We were led to believe they were non-toxic and had a short life in nature.

That seems far from the truth and so this week we continue to examine the problems associated with their usage. This is definitely a post to share – many people are unaware of the multitude of problems associated with the use of Roundup and other GBHs, but first

                Thought for the day 

                   Just as space is not defined 
                   By the objects that move through it,   

                   Awareness is not defined or limited 
                   By the thoughts and emotions that it perceives. 

                   Awareness simply is.

                                                      Sogyal Rinpoche

Environmental and agricultural effects of Roundup 

1. Roundup resistant weeds
To quote Wiki : Resistance evolves after a weed population has been subjected to intense selection pressure in the form of repeated use of a single herbicide.

Weeds resistant to Roundup have been called 'superweeds' and they now constitute a major worldwide problem.

In the 1990s, when the first genetically modified crops such as glyphosate-resistant corn, canola, soybean and cotton were introduced, no glyphosate-resistant weeds existed.

By 2014, glyphosate-resistant weeds dominated herbicide-resistant research. At that time, 23 glyphosate-resistant species were found in 18 countries.

2. Roundup is toxic to earthworms

Tests using New Zealand’s most common earthworm showed that glyphosate, in amounts as low as 1/20 of standard application rates, reduced its growth and slowed its development.

This does fit my own experience.

It had long puzzled me that there was an absence of worms in sprayed areas when the rest of the garden is full of them.

3. Roundup inhibits mycorrhizal fungi
Mycorrhizal fungi are essential for tree health, collecting nutrients and water to feed their host plant and protecting tree roots from harmful fungi and root rot diseases.

Canadian studies have shown that as little as 1 part per million of Roundup can reduce the growth or colonization of mycorrhizal fungi.

4. Glyphosate remains in soil much longer than we were led to believe
Roundup is adsorbed and bound onto soil particles where it can remain active and later be released from the soil and taken up by plants. Adsorption is higher in soils containing clay and organic matter than in sandy loam soils.

Glyphosate in soil takes around 140 days to break down to half it’s toxicity and may well continue to be taken up by plants for around 2 years.

5. Roundup linked to plant disease

Roundup can increase the spread and severity of over 40 major plant diseases, including 9 different species of root rot (e.g. Fusarium spp, Phytophthora spp, Monosporascus spp), as well as Anthracnose, wilts and rust diseases.

6. Tough on trees
Roundup reduces resilience (e.g. cold hardiness, drought tolerance) in trees and their resistance to fungal disease. It also inhibits the uptake by trees of essential nutrients including Manganese, Zinc, Iron and Boron.

7. Roundup kills benficial small bugs
Tests conducted by The International Organization for Biological Control showed that Roundup caused mortality of beneficial species including Tricogramma (small wasps), predatory mites, lacewings, ladybugs, and predatory beetles.

8. Toxic to tadpoles and frogs

In Australia most formulations of glyphosate have been banned from use in or near water because of their toxic effects on tadpoles and to a lesser extent on adult frogs.

Glyphosate has been shown to cause DNA damage to tadpoles.

There is also concern about non-lethal effects of the herbicide on frogs.

9. Spray drift
Ground spraying of Glyphosate can drift up to 400m in still conditions (i.e. no wind)

It is not just the glyphosates that are so problematic; the surfactants may well be worse. Surfactants are used in glyphosate sprays to improve the solubility of the glyphosate and penetration into plants. They are usually ethylated amines with the most commonly used one being POEA (polyoxyethylene tallow amine).

Roundup’s manufacturer Monsanto treats the surfactants it uses as trade secrets and will not disclose them.

Surfactants have now been found to amplify the damaging effects of glyphosate in living organisms, making the mixtures significantly more toxic than glyphosate on its own.

Problems associated with surfactants
1. Surfactants can cause serious irritation of eyes, the respiratory tract and skin, and have been found to contain carcinogenic dioxane (not dioxin) contaminants.

2. At concentrations of less than 2% of recommended agricultural usage, all common surfactants have been found to kill cells, damage cell membranes, mitochrondria and fragment DNA in cell nuclei.

The impact of these surfactants are greater in combination with glyphosate than when trialled individually.

3. in 2014, eight out of nine pesticide formulations tested were up to one thousand times more toxic than their so-called active ingredients. So when just the isolated chemicals are tested, we may not be getting the whole story.

In the 2014 tests, Roundup was found to be 100 times more toxic than glyphosate itself. Moreover, Roundup turned out to be among the most toxic pesticides tested.

What is happening around the world?
In 2015, the Dutch parliament voted to ban the sale of glyphosate-based herbicides to private parties. The ban, under which agricultural use is excluded, was initially proposed several years ago. However, it is thought that Monsanto influence prevented it from taking place at the time.

Other regions have also banned the chemical, including in Canada, Sri Lanka and Colombia, which recently voted to end the aerial spraying of glyphosate to kill coca plants in the fight on drugs.

What to do?
1. Do not use Roundup or other Glyphosate sprays in your garden or near your home.

2. Lobby your Council to stop spraying Roundup or other Glyphosates around your community. As an alternative, there are steam sprays now available that some Councils are using to great effect.

3. Be particularly protective of schoolyards and children’s playgrounds.

4. Only eat organic food – wherever possible.

5. Particularly avoid commercially grown soybeans and wheat.

Perhaps the best way to enact this change is to vote with your fork and dollar, making sure to buy only truly organically produced food and related commodities whenever possible.


Is Roundup safe? - Part 1


Meditation in the Forest
The annual Pre-Easter retreat amidst the natural peace and tranquility of the Upper Yarra Valley.

Looking for meaning, clarity and purpose in life?

Need a break? Some time to stand back from the busyness of life, to re-assess, to regenerate, to regain some balance once more? A new clarity...

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Dates           4 pm Friday 7th April until 2 pm Thursday 13th April 2017.
Venue          The Yarra Valley Living Centre, 55 Rayner Court, Yarra Junction, Victoria, Australia 
Bookings     The Gawler Foundation: +61 (3) 5967 1730 

For more details and to book : CLICK HERE


  1. Some pretty credible, scientific concerns about roundup were being voiced at least 15 years ago. I was put off using it then. At least one of the concerns about using GMO products, soybeans for example, was that they were bred to be able to survive glyphosphate poison. Therefore you could expect those GMO products to have glyphosphate residue on or in them.
    I think that monsanto and the agricultural industry lobby did a very good job of marginalising the scientific voices that spoke about the harm caused by glyphosphate ... as we see so often in relation to so many toxic issues.

    1. This trend of cover-ups and withholding important toxicity information for commercial gain seems to be steadily eroding public confidence. Where are our Governments and legislators in all this?

  2. Interesting that for years working in both the agricultural and horticultural industries, I have used Roundup, Weedmaster Duo and many other Glyphosate based products yet told on numerous occasions that it was safe enough gargle! before lunch. As a young bloke, no mention was made of the dangers, even pre-glyphosate products such as Tryquat that use to burn my nose and make me dizzy, were seen to be safe. (when I refused to use Tryquat, my boss at the time labelled me a wimp in front of fellow workers and threatened to sack me. Nice bloke..but wild horses would not get me near that stuff again).
    I wonder about the other products I have had to use. The fungicides, artificial fertilisers and the ones that really concern me, the potent pre-emergent herbicides. None of these are natural and the legacy of using them so liberally will be ours and the generation before us's smear to carry. My two young boys will be growing up a hell of a lot more educated than I was. Great two part blog Ian... keep them coming.

    1. One remarkable aspect to all this is that these products were presumed safe until otherwise proven. And then a lot of effort went into blocking any proof that they were dangerous.
      Certainly do hope the next generation are more aware...

  3. It's not just the pesticides and herbicides that are dangerous. Some years ago I worked in a transportation company where they delivered 1 ton bags of fertiliser used by farmers. I happened to read the (very) fine print on the bottom of a bag which said that repeated use would (not might, or could potentially) cause toxic cadmium levels! I'm sure none of the farmers applying this toxic product ever read that tiny note, they simply used whatever product the agricultural 'specialist' recommended. Sadly, an enormous amount of that product continues to be spread on fields.

  4. Very interesting Jenny, do you remember what type of fertiliser it was?

  5. I found this article very useful, giving me new information about Roundup and its dangers and other pesticides that we used to take for granted.
    As I do gardening, I will be careful about which weedkiller to use. I did use two weedkillers recently, but I cannot remember the names of them right now. Best wishes, Michael.

  6. poor science is no substitute for the truth - this article needs links to the source article's, there has been a need for farmers to use glyphosate's, developing alternatives takes time, there are many problems associated with broad acre agriculture including cadmium etc in phosphate (bird poo) and all human poo in WA at least ending up in the sea rather than being reused, Cadmium and other heavy metals are the problem, Liberal parties downsizing the research by reducing CSIRO and Agriculture Dept's Australia wide.Cancer is a psycho physical problem and the cure along the same lines, We all want the solution to be out there rather than within us and do the work that's required. If "roundup" is the problem more farmers would be ill / not their partners - this has not been validated. I do appreciate that all pesticides cause problems for the environment and due care is needed in all their use's and the best pesticide is the one with the least side effects, however research and publicity needs to be encouraged in the most appropriate technology at the time, and politicians only work under public pressure so link to good research and push your politician too.

  7. Thanks Dennis, however, I explained in part 1 that while I did my best to collate the best research evidence I could, it is beyond my own resources to document an article like this.
    I agree we need to look at options and that Roundup provided an apparently easy option, but it seems clearer now that it is an option that comes with quite a heavy price tag.