Unraveling the Impacts of Roundup
It was a strange place to have an argument about Roundup; backpacking through the Andes in southern Patagonia, stumbling through the incredible landscape in awe of the expansive glacial fields obstructed by legendary vertical rock faced peaks. In the middle of this pure and wild territory I let myself fall into heated debate about the number one selling herbicide linked to the emergence of genetically modified roundup ready plant varietals. A fellow hiker, a farm boy from Alberta that we encountered along the trail, had first hand experience in the impacts of roundup and didn’t hesitate to hike along with us to discuss.
“When we started using Roundup,” he said as we pressed forward up a rocky ridge line in torrential winds, “it transformed the way my father and I managed the fields. We could afford to grow more and pay fewer workers and we actually made some money for our labor after that.” If I hadn’t already invested my food geek brain in research on the impact of roundup on our food system I would have surely taken sides with him. Roundup, for him was an innocent miracle that proved success and facilitated his college education. But for me, Roundup was the instigator of un-naturally engineered foods scarily taking over our food system and impacting our health in ways we are not even aware of yet.
“There are really no studies that prove Roundup is harmful,” he stated simply. I couldn’t help but point out that a lack of proof doesn’t qualify Roundup as safe. It just should not be an innocent until proven guilty sort of deal, I argued.
The Roundup debate continued over e-mail as we shared articles and information back and forth following the trip. However, recent discovery of an article published by plant pathologist Don Huber, makes for a strong case against roundup ready agricultural practices that, I hope, cannot be ignored even by the individuals whose livelihood has been supported by it.
Huber looks at the very essential impacts of Roundup that may have a domino effect on all parties involved, such as the immobilization of up to 80% of soil micronutrients caused by the use of Roundup. Roundup, he argues, can remain in plants and soil and continue to impact the nutrient absorption for up to 20 years depending on the soil type. Huber also points out that Roundup’s potent disinfectant properties may kill key soil organisms that are necessary for the conversion of certain minerals like manganese to usable forms for the plant. Just as the killing of good bacteria in our digestive systems can make us sick, the killing of soil organisms is impacting the outbreak of harmful fungi in the soil.
If this is not enough to convince the consumer, as well as the producer, further evidence points to roundup as the cause of less nitrogen fixation in legumes, damaged root systems and nutrient uptake, susceptibility to disease, compromised photosynthesis and inefficient use of water in plants.
In addition, Huber points out a decline in nutrient percentages in the foods we eat due to Roundup usage including 46% less potassium, 49% less iron and 26% less magnesium. The compensation in nature as well as in our bodies when a natural nutrient balance is set out of whack like this has damaging potential.
Mainstream agriculturists scorn Huber’s research, which prevents further and broader studies that may help prove what many have postulated. But sharing underground knowledge like this can be a powerful way to instigate change from the ground level upward. Whether you are on the trail, in the office or working in the fields, taking a look at all sides of the story, looking beyond what you already know and learning more about what you eat and how it impacts your health and the health of the environment can help spread the truth and make a positive impact on our food systems.
For more information and resources I want to pass along check back Thursday.