Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many weedkillers, including Monsanto’s Roundup (used in farming, public places and in households – it is the most widely used weedkiller in the world).
Government data shows Monsanto’s Roundup’s use in UK farming has increased by 400% in the last 20 years (between 2014 – 2016 it increased by 26%).
Many farmers routinely use Roundup and other herbicides to clear their fields of weeds before crops emerge in the spring. But what’s more alarming is they’re also using glyphosate on crops shortly before they are harvested, in order to dry out the plants and make them easier to harvest.
But this is how glyphosate can follow the grain into our food. Tests by the Defra Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) found that almost two thirds of wholemeal bread sampled contained glyphosate.
There have long been concerns that glyphosate is a hormone disrupter which can cause cancerous tumours, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. If this is the case, as some scientists argue, there is no safe lower level for human consumption.
Glyphosate’s manufacturers insist the levels in our food are safe. But a report by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans“.
Glyphosate is big news right now. A recent landmark US lawsuit saw $78m in damages paid by Monsanto to a cancer sufferer. Using glyphosate as a pre-harvest treatment is wrong, and it needs to end.
However, the problem isn’t just glyphosate: our food and farming system is stuck on a chemical-reliant treadmill. More consumers need to vote for organic farming practises with their pockets, because thousands of organic farmers show you can already farm profitably without pesticides and herbicide use.