Choosing a weed killer?

Roundup, a popular herbicide, could be linked to Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers

This is the time of year we start seeing brown strips of grass around gardens, driveways, fence lines and ditches. Often those dead areas of grass and weeds have been treated with Roundup, a popular weed killer.

Roundup is in the news this spring, and not for its weed killing uses. A new study suggests that heavy use of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, is linked to serious health problems and that evidence of glyphosate residues have been found on food. And a farmer was surprised to find wheat that has been genetically modified to withstand Roundup on his farm in Eastern Oregon.

But for the home gardener, there are ways to garden safely and with fewer pesticides.

First, the crop news

According to the East Oregonian news, Japan has put a hold on purchasing wheat until the mystery of how the GMO “Roundup Ready” wheat ended up in an Eastern Oregon wheat field and what that may mean for Western wheat growers. Read the update at www.eastoregonian.com/free/japan-cuts-imports-after-genetically-modified-wheat-found/article_bc01b15e-c957-11e2-ade1-001a4bcf887a.html.

An update on the growing alarm of Oregon wheat growers:  www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2013/05/genetically_modified_wheat_jap.html

The last time a crop was suspected of being contaminated with GMO strains was 2006. Genetically engineered rice was found in that year’s harvest and exporters lost millions as international markets refused imports. According to NPR, the wheat harvest is much larger.

For more on the mystery of the GMO wheat – whose experimental trials ended in 2001 in Oregon and all engineered crops were supposed to be completely removed, read on at www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/05/30/187103955/gmo-wheat-found-in-oregon-field-howd-it-get-there. How much of the GMO wheat may be in food supplies is uncertain.

And the health news

Residues of “glyphosate,” the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, have been found in food. A recent study suggests glyphosate may play a role in Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers. These health concerns are common to some pesticide exposures. From the National Institutes of Health news: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_136278.html

Those residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc. Samsel is a former private environmental government contractor as well as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” the study says.

And the garden news: weed techniques don’t have to use Roundup

Find out more about glyphosate use and risks at Grow Smart Grow Safe – an online resource on pesticides at www.growsmartgrowsafe.org/.  You can also find techniques to tackle weeds without Roundup at www.growsmartgrowsafe.org/Weeds.aspx, and save yourself the worry, exposure and the wait for a final verdict on Roundup’s health impacts. Or call the experienced folks at the Garden Hotline at 206-633-0224 and find out how to garden with fewer chemicals.

Find safe garden products at www.growsmartgrowsafe.org/

Find safe garden products at http://www.growsmartgrowsafe.org