Glyphosate is the main ingredient in roundup and is the most widely used chemical herbicide in history. Chances are, this chemical is present in at least some of the foods you’re going to eat today, even if those foods are organic, non-GMO and “natural.” Why should it worry you, and what can you do to avoid exposure to glyphosate?


Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide sold under the generic trade name Roundup®. It was first sold to farmers in 1974 by Monsanto, which was recently acquired by Bayer. The use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) has increased approximately 100-fold (by volume) since the late 1970s, although some estimates suggest a 300-fold increase. Why has glyphosate use soared so much?


The reasons for the dramatic increase in glyphosate use may be twofold.


After Roundup® was introduced in 1974, farmers began using more and more herbicides to make life easier on farms by killing invasive weeds that could threaten crop yields. Then, in the 1990s, Monsanto introduced their GENETICALLY modified Roundup Ready® soybeans and embarked on a very aggressive and aggressive campaign to get more farmers to use these seeds. The seeds are designed to spray everything around them with insecticide without killing the cash crop. Roundup® can be used in large quantities in the field without killing gm crops. Over time, the emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds became common, leading farmers to use more roundup to try to maintain crop yields.


The introduction of roundup ready crops has led to a significant increase in glyphosate use. In fact, use increased to 36 million kilograms in 2000, and by 2014, annual use was estimated at 113.4 million kilograms. From 1974 to 2004, an estimated 1.6 billion kg of glyphosate was applied to fields in the United States (Benbrook, 2016).


Farmers are also starting to use glyphosate “off label” as a pre-harvest desiccant for non-GM food crops. While most farmers spray their crops after they are ripe, which kills weeds and makes harvesting easier, some use glyphosate to force their crops to ripen earlier. This is increasingly common for crops such as wheat, barley, oats and beans, allowing farmers to reap better harvests even in areas with a shorter growing season.


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