Let’s be honest: most of us have no idea what is and what is not sprayed on crops during the farming process. The vast majority of us have absolutely no clue exactly how much pesticide is sprayed onto our foods before it has finally made its way to our plates. Coating crops in pesticides are such a common occurrence, however, that it’s somewhat ignorant for us to continue without ever educating ourselves on what happens to our food before we eat it. Understanding what has been sprayed on your food is important to make yourself aware of, especially when it involves glyphosate (1).
What is Glyphosate?
According to experts, “Glyphosate is an herbicide. It is applied to the leaves of plants to kill both broadleaf plants and grasses. The sodium salt form of glyphosate is used to regulate plant growth and ripen fruit” (2). This herbicide was first registered for use in the United States back in 1974 and has since become one of the most widely used herbicides to be applied in agriculture and forestry, in lawns and gardens, and for weeds in industrial areas (2). Because it is so commonly used, glyphosate can actually be found in dangerous quantities in many thought-to-be-harmless breakfast foods (3)!
Glyphosate is sprayed over all kinds of different crops before harvest, and it is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup (1). This week killer, Roundup, is a “probable human carcinogen” and has made many headlines for its widespread use on genetically modified seeds, as well as the link it has to antibiotic resistance and hormone disruption (4). Roundup is quite easily one of the world’s most known and used weed killers, commonly used on wheat, oats, and more (1). However, as a toxic substance, glyphosate is not an ingredient that we should be using at all, and yet we spray it over most of our crops before selling it to consumers (1).
Why is Glyphosate Used?
It’s important for you to understand that glyphosate has officially been listed as a possible carcinogen, able to cause a wide range of health issues for human beings, such as DNA damage, birth defects, and even cancer (1)! This might bring the question: why use glyphosate at all? Well, the chemical is so commonly sprayed on crops because it allows the farmer to begin the harvesting process much sooner, as it speeds up the drying process and also helps the crops to dry evenly (1). This helps the farmer eliminate waste by harvesting too early, too late, or with naturally unevenly dried crops.
Due to this advantage, there has been an enormous increase in glyphosate use within the last decade (1). By essentially killing their crops with glyphosate, farmers are able to accelerate and artificially even out the harvesting process (1). This application is called “pre-harvest roundup” and is practiced in both conventional and industrial farms since the 1980s, and due to a farmer’s ability to reap more profits, this practice doesn’t show any signs of dying out any time soon (1).
Glyphosate obviously presents its fair share of threats to consumers, but it also provides farmers with the benefits of a speedy harvest. Do you think such a chemical should be allowed to be used, or is it altogether too dangerous to cut health code corners for the sake of convenience?