US Government Finally Studying How Toxic Popular Weed Killers Really Are

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May 16, 2018

All-natural and homemade herbicides are starting to look really good. A study by US government researchers has found popular weed-killing products might be more dangerous to human cells than the active ingredient is by itself.  

The ingredient in question is glyphosate; the most widely-used herbicide around the world.

According to the study, it helps kill weeds by preventing them from making proteins needed for growth. Over the past 25 years, the use of glyphosate has risen dramatically; genetically modified crops are immune to it. It’s the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, and so many other agricultural, forestry and residential herbicide products.

Until now, researchers have only been aware of the serious risks glyphosate alone presents, such as the destruction of red blood cells, kidney and gastrointestinal damage, as well as serious lung problems. A study of farmers in Ontario, Canada, found those using the chemical had an increase of miscarriage and premature births in their families. But for the first time, scientists are studying the risks common weed killers present when other chemicals are mixed with glyphosate.

The study is ongoing, but the National Toxicology Program Laboratory says early findings point to the combined chemical formulas being much more toxic than glyphosate is alone, decreasing human cell viability. Whether the formulations are actually causing cancer and other deadly diseases remains to be seen; much more testing has to be done. And we badly need it; even if you don’t personally use glyphosate-based weed killers, their widespread use means residues are found in our food and water, and public places such as parks, playgrounds, and golf courses. This is a problem that affects us all.

Monsanto first introduced the Roundup brand in 1974; hard to believe it’s taken government agencies 40 years to study the extent of its toxicity, isn’t it?

Opt For Organic

Whether you’re trying to combat weeds or harmful insects in your garden, there are all-natural or homemade solutions that can help. While you may think they won’t be as effective as chemical products, that is definitely not the case! The following can help control the pest and weed situation in your garden, while also protecting you from any harmful side effects.

Pulling weeds by hand is always the most reliable way to be rid of them, but a homemade cocktail of vinegar, salt, and liquid dish soap has all the ingredients needed to quickly kill them. In fact, if applied on a warm sunny day, the following recipe will work in a matter of hours:

  • 1 gallon of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and get busy!

I’ve also had quite a bit of success getting rid of weeds in the driveway or on stone walkways by dissolving plenty of table salt in boiling water and pouring over top the problem areas.

When it comes to harmful insects in your garden, the Canadian Compost Council suggests creating your own organic spray by mixing the following in a blender:

  • 1 whole garlic bulb
  • A generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 litre of water

Once the solids settle, transfer to a spray bottle and apply to the tops and undersides of the leaves and the stems of insect-infested plants.

Companion planting is also a great way to keep pests to a minimum. For example, many insects are repelled by the strong smell of marigolds, so planting them around a tomato patch is always a good idea.

Eliminating the use of potentially harmful herbicides is a global problem, but making sure you only use natural, non-toxic weed killers at your own home is a small step in the right direction. Not only will they protect you and animals from harmful chemicals, but they’ll also save you a ton of money this summer.

Catherine Sherriffs
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Catherine Sherriffs

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her two young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.
Catherine Sherriffs
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