Many environmentalists are falling for this glib marketing pitch. Here is why it’s false. Action Alert!
At the federal and local levels, stopping invasive plants with pesticides like glyphosate is being seen as a conservation priority. But what is it doing to our soil and our food?
For many years, the federal government has been devoting large sums of money to combating “invasive plants”—plants which are not native to a particular location and which can cause damage to the environment, like crowding out native species and reducing crop yields. This has also been happening at the local level, with community conservation groups increasingly seeing the fight against invasive species as the primary means by which the environment can be restored to its natural state.
To those looking to rid the land of invasive species, only one solution, essentially, is being offered—toxic pesticides.
This trend has, of course, been exploited by Monsanto, which uses its significant influence with government officials to sell more Roundup. For much of the 1990s until recent years, Monsanto’s Roundup profits were growing steadily. One Monsanto executive has been quoted as saying, “Roundup was God at Monsanto.”
The strategy paid large dividends. In 2014, the government spent $2 billion fighting invasive species—half of which was budgeted for glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) and other pesticides. State conservation officials almost uniformly rely on Monsanto’s glyphosate and other pesticides to manage their weed problems—a 2014 study found that 90% of California’s land managers used glyphosate, and similar stories can be told of other states.
The justification given by the Department of the Interior for shelling out $1 billion worth of taxpayer dollars to Monsanto to buy pesticide is that invasive species cost the national economy about $120 billion each year—though this is a patently phony statistic. It is based on a report by David Pimentel, an ecologist whose other work includes a report which estimates that cats cost us $17 billion a year, which suggests that his figures tend to be overblown, to say the least (he calculated that cats kill about 560 million birds a year, and valued each bird at $30). The transparently fake figures tell us this is less about saving the environment and more about directing millions of taxpayer dollars to Monsanto.
The tragic and ironic truth is that the use of such pesticides on invasive weeds is only exaggerating the problem.
First, we’ve known for quite some time that, just as bacteria have developed resistance to overused antibiotics, weeds develop a resistance to glyphosate and other herbicides, which leads to a cycle of more and more chemicals being dumped on plants to try to outpace nature.
More fundamentally, the use of pesticides on invasive weeds is destroying the soil biota. Just as most of the genetic material found inside the human body belongs to the rich assortment of bacteria and microorganisms, the soil is home to a wide variety of organisms that aid in healthy plant growth. And just as taking antibiotics and being exposed to toxic chemicals destroys our gut microbiota, the heavy use of pesticides wreaks similar havoc on the soil biota—it affects rhizospheres (soil and organisms around the root of a plant or tree), worms (crucial for aerating soil, circulating nutrients, and increasing microbial activity), and mycorrhizae fungi (which plants rely on for nutrients and moisture).
Monoculturing—the farming practice in which one type of plant is grown season after season, without cycling through other types of crops to replenish the soil—has also depleted the nutrients from our soil and has exacerbated the spread of invasive plant species.
Just as our gut microbiota are increasingly seen as crucial to human health, microbes in the soil are essential to the proper functioning of the ecosystem—not to mention in providing humans with clean, nutritious food. Healthy soil means healthy plants; healthy plants mean healthy food, both for animals and humans.
Action Alert! If you haven’t already, send a message to the EPA urging the agency to ban glyphosate. Please send your message immediately.
Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health:
Seven Casualties in the War on Natural Health
Why Does the FDA Think Eating Buttered Cigarettes or Egg Shells is OK?
Open Letter: Glyphosate Testing
Is Monsanto’s Glyphosate Actually Helping the Environment?
Many environmentalists are falling for this glib marketing pitch. Here is why it’s false. Action Alert!
26 thoughts on “Is Monsanto’s Glyphosate Actually Helping the Environment?”
I have at least two invasive species on my property: blackberries and large periwinkle. The only solution that I have found is to pull up the periwinkle by hand and to keep pulling it. This particular species has an insidious amount of tiny roots below the surface and they will have to be dug out and separated from the soil. I have also found an alternative for the eradication of blackberries and that is cut them back to point where nothing shows and cover with plain cardboard. These are long and tiring practices, but they exclude the use herbicides that may eventually leach into my well water
Thanks for respecting the land and water! I too spend countless hours weeding my veggie garden and never use chemicals of any kind.
Check out the Garden of Eden method which mimics Nature – less work and great results. There is a lot of Scripture quoted throughout the move, if you’re sensitive to that, which increases its length; but the movie also shows various ways people implemented the method and explains why those variations produced the less-than-desirable results.
I’m fine with whatever variety I have. It grows in the shade and discourages weeds.
The Ajuga, however, has spread everywhere. At least the flowers are somewhat attractive.
I would like to enlarge my garden into the spot which it and the blackberries now reside. You can kill the ajuga easily by defoliating it. It was on my property when I first moved to my house. I just pruned all of the greenery and it died. The roots will rot and it can be pulled out. The flowers are attractive, but artichokes are more attractive. 🙂
I can’t get ajuga to grow, my geese love it and will rip it out by the roots. They do the same with dandelions.
We’re a little too urban for geese here. Eradicating the ajuga, dandelions and trumpet vine is probably impossible since the neighbors have those also.
Saying cats kill 560 million songbirds a year is wrong, because it is a MUCH, MUCH higher figure. Please do your research. Attacking a well-respected scientist such as Dr. David Pimentel, who does incredibly good work, is just wrong. Didn’t you research this? I agree, I have no use for herbicides or -cides of any kind and they are overused, but please don’t hurt the reputation of scientists who are doing good and ethical work.
It is one of the downsides of having cats, but I would be overrun with rats and probably rattlesnakes if it weren’t for my four cats.
“The justification given by the Department of the Interior for shelling out $1 billion worth of taxpayer dollars to Monsanto to buy pesticide is that invasive species cost the national economy about $120 billion each year—though this is a patently phony statistic. It is based on a report by David Pimentel, an ecologist whose other work includes a report which estimates that cats cost us $17 billion a year, which suggests that his figures tend to be overblown, to say the least (he calculated that cats kill about 560 million birds a year, and valued each bird at $30). The transparently fake figures tell us this is less about saving the environment and more about directing millions of taxpayer dollars to Monsanto.”…..<—from the article above….
YO!, "chezron", (or is that "chevron?)….Surprise me with a reply. I've read your comment several times, and I'm confused. To say cats kill "560 million songbirds" *IS* a gross over-exaggeration. And, DOI is using Pimentel's research to justify paying Monsanto $1BILLION for pesticides("herbicides") How can you support that?………………
(c)2016, Tom Clancy, Jr., *NON-fiction
Glyphosates kill all living things animal &vegetable. It destroys the DNA of dividing cells. It is only the concentration that determines how long it will take to destroy.. Read the disclaimer on the label.
Created by congress to absolve the chemical companies from being sued when they kill you!
This hysteria is really getting tiresome. I have used glyphosate for years in the battle against invasive plants. I am still alive well, and so are all the native plants in the wildlife habitat that I have treated. The natives plants and the wildlife that depends on them thrive after the invasives die off. I keep waiting for the anti-glyphosate people to go out there and use their own methods to help control invasives, but it never happens.
It kind of makes the argument a little weak that the author does not know the difference between a pesticide and an herbicide. Pesticides kill pests, herbicides kill plants. Glyphosphate (Roundup) is an herbicide, not a pesticide.
But wait, it’s also patented as an antibiotic, chelator, desiccant, and… amazingly, it actually does kill bugs as well. Just one heck of a multi-tasking, panacea poison.
Actually, herbicides are classed as a type of pesticide. So while calling it an herbicide would’ve been more specific, it is not wrong to call it a pesticide.
Just weed by hand. And you buy nothing, pollute nothing..Keep it simple and harmless.
And think of all those body-friendly soil microbes you’ll be in contact with by ‘playing’ in the dirt this way! 🙂
Actually, those soil microbes turn out to be very beneficial to our human microbiome. If more kids were exposed to soil bacteria as well as farm animals when they were young, chances are there would be fewer cases of Crohn’s disease and other immune disorders. Problem with Glyphosate, as with antibiotics, is that they provide a short-term solution that fools us into the delusion of ‘mission accomplished’. And we all know where that ended up!
Body friendly? Ringworm?
Oh please…I’ve been gardening for decades, never wear gloves so I’m in full contact with the soil and compost, and have never contracted ringworm. LOL Plus one is exposed to a broader array of beneficial organisms than can ever be derived solely from our food these days…not to neglect the benefits of absorbing the ground’s electrical charge. And considering the body is predominantly composed of micro-organisms when compared to cell count, as well as being ‘electric,’ playing in the dirt provides Nature with the opportunity to ‘feed’ us in a different way.
Totally agree. Well said.
Ringworm is a fungus. Perhaps roundworm you are thinking of? Or another parasite?
I have to question again why glyphosate is being referred to as a pesticide. To my knowledge pesticides are designed to kill insects, and herbicides (such as glyphosate) is designed to kill weeds (plants, etc.). Does glyphosate do both? If not, let’s start calling it what it is, an herbicide, so that we look like we know what we are talking about. ANH, please make the correction if glyphosate is in fact not a pesticide. When we talk about this to people and spread the word about the problems of glyphosate, we lose credibility if we don’t even know what it is……..
Pesticides are the general term. Herbicides and insecticides are types of pesticides, so it is not wrong to call Roundup a pesticide, although it is not specific.
Long article. .maybe I missed it but..WHAT IS YOUR SOLUTION??
I seriously do not understand why some conservation groups use pesticides/herbicides to kill invasive species. The Nature Conservancy is a big one for this puzzling behavior, and is the main reason why I won’t work for them. The last group I worked for only removed plants manually i.e. pulling them up or using shovels to dig them up. In my opinion, all environmentalists and conservationists should oppose pesticides, especially Roundup. Or maybe I’m just a hard liner environmentalist.