Q&A on the use of Glyphosate
What is RoundUp?
RoundUP is the world’s leading weed killer which was developed by Monsanto
What is Glyphosate?
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in RoundUp and many other brands of weed killer
Is RoundUp / Glyphosate used on food crops?
What is not so well known is that farmers also use glyphosate on crops such as wheat, barley, oats, oil seed rape and other crops right before harvest, raising concerns that the herbicide could get into food products.
Why do farmers spray a weed killer on a crop pre harvest?
Farmers there often had trouble getting wheat and barley to dry evenly so they can start harvesting. So they came up with the idea to kill the crop (with glyphosate) one to two weeks before harvest to accelerate the drying down of the grain
This practice began in Scotland in the 1980s but has become widespread in damper climates. A crop which has been desiccated is easier to harvest and the seed contains less moisture so requires less drying. When RoundUp was developed by Monsanto, its application pre harvest was never taken into account.
Why should we be concerned by spraying a weed killer on a crop pre harvest?
I think farmers need to realize that all of the chemicals we use are ‘bad’ to some extent.Monsanto has done such an effective job marketing glyphosate as ‘safe’ and ‘biodegradable’ that farmers here still believe this even though there is mounting evidence to suggest otherwise.
Can glyphosate that we spray preharvest find its way into the food chain?
Traces of glyphosate have been found in human urine in Eastern Europe. The concept of spraying a weed killer on a crop like wheat just days before harvest and then using that wheat to make flour does not seem the most sensible idea. Glyphosate is used to kill off oilseed rape and the seed is then pressed to extract the oil content. Can we be sure the oil is free from all traces of glyphosate.
Residues of glyphosate have been found in wheat flour. Last year, the U.S. Wheat Quality Council that tests on flour samples from the U.S. and Canada found that all had traces of glyphosate. However these were well below the maximum residue limits for glyphosate in wheat, which are 30 parts per million in the U.S but it does prove that the active ingredient is finding its way into the food chain. A lot of the wheat grown in the US does not have pre harvest sprays of a glyphosate.
Is there an alternative to using RoundUP for desiccation of a crop?
Yes , of course. Use nothing, just let the crop die naturally. It will take a week or two longer and the seed will contain slightly higher moisture neither of which is dangerous. So it will take a few extra euros to dry but you have saved on the cost of spraying RoundUP
The effect glyphosate has on the eco system?
There is growing evidence that glyphosate is the “nuclear bomb” of weed killers. It wipes out all plant life whether it is used pre harvest or post harvest. This may give a clean seed bed for sowing but all the dead plant debris contains glyphosate. The worms and microorganisms now try to breakdown this debris and there is research in the UK that suggests that our worm population has been reduced dramatically thanks to RoundUP
This is and extract from Monsanto UK website
Studies confirm glyphosate residues in the rape plant will not be found in the extracted oil. The majority, 85%, will be in the straw and the remaining 15% in the cake.
This highlights 2 issues , firstly the straw which is the food source for our worms is contaminated and secondly the cake which is left over is primarily the seed without the oil content has 15% of the glyphosate in it. This cake has a lot in common with wheat as both are the seeds of the crop so it is sensible to assume that milling wheat will have the same levels of glyphosate.
Would I prefer my bread made from French wheat or Irish wheat?
Most definitely French. There is very little reason to use RoundUp pre harvest in a warm dry climate. Chances are that a French farmer would not use as it is an additional cost with little benefits. In my opinion the use of glyphosate should be banned for pre harvest use with milling wheat immediately. Crops like oilseed rape and malting barley should also be included in the ban.
What is our policy on using RoundUp / glyphosate at Derrycamma Farm
We have reduced our usage of all products containing glyphosate dramatically because of the damage we think it is doing to our worm population. We don’t grow milling wheat nor malting barley so using RoundUp on our wheat and barley crops there is little danger of it getting into the food chain however we do try not to use glyphosate, Due to wet weather conditions we are forced to use a glyphosate to enable us to harvest the crop however we do not do this lightly. As for oilseed rape, even though there is no evidence to state that the glyphosate finds it way into our rapeseed oil we do not use a preharvest glyphosate