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Summer, Your Lawn and Your Liver

Ahhh Summer. There's nothing like it. And, for those who like to putter in the garden during the long days of summertide, there's nothing finer than the gratification of a finely manicured lawn. Unfortunately cultivating that fine patch of green may be detrimental to your health.

Used in yards, farms and parks throughout the world, Roundup is the most widely used weed-killer in the world. Invented in 1976 by Monsanto, Roundup is a highly toxic herbicide.

Detrimental to the environment, plant life, animal life and humans, it was originally marketed to consumers with the tag line “As safe as table salt!”. Unfortunately millions used the weed killer without a clue that this toxin attacks the liver. Despite a ruling in the 1990s by a New York court forbidding Monsanto to describe the product as safe, non-toxic and as harmless as salt, many gardeners, farmers and park officials continue to use Roundup to control weeds in gardens, fields and lawns naively believing the toxic cocktail is safe to use. Nothing could be further than from the truth.

Usage of Glyphosate in US - 2007
  • Agricultural market: 180 to 185 million pounds (82,000 to 84,000 tonnes)
  • Home and garden market: 5 to 8 million pounds (2,300 to 3,600 tonnes)
  • Industry, commerce and government: 13 to 15 million pounds (5,900 to 6,800 tonnes)
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture stopped updating its pesticide use database in 2008.
  • Source: Pesticide Industry Sales & Usage Report for 2006-2007 published in February, 2011

A study of Ontario farmers, found that those using glyphosate formulations had an increase of miscarriages and premature births within their family. Also, glyphosate has been shown to disrupt hormones that regulate estrogen synthesis, important reproductive hormones that have also been shown to have a role in bone growth and testicular function.

The herbicides that incorporate the use of glyphosates are usually not as pure in glyphosate as consumers initially believed. Herbicides also use surfactants in their mixture to aid in the effectiveness of the herbicide. This, according to the United States National Library of Medicine, means that many reactions to the toxicity level of glyphosates is not based on that single ingredient alone, but rather a combination of chemicals and substances meant to make the herbicide more effective.

Health Effects
In 2009, the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology reported that French researchers evaluated the toxicity of four glyphosate-based herbicides in Roundup formulations of varying dilutions, on several human cell types. They discovered when 'inert' solvents, preservatives, surfactants and other substances are added to the glyphosate in Roundup, the chemical cocktail becomes a toxic vandal. A number of the Roundup formulations tested at very dilute concentrations were found to alter hormone actions and cause human liver cells to die within 24 hours of exposure.

One specific 'inert' ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to human cells than the herbicide itself. “This clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert,” wrote the study authors from France’s University of Caen. The French team said its results highlight the need for health agencies around the world to reconsider the safety of Roundup.

So one might well ask what our government officials are doing about regulating this dangerous stuff. The answer is they are doing nothing. According to Caroline Cox, Research Director of the Center for Environmental Health, the term “inert ingredient” is often misleading. Cox says that US federal law classifies all pesticide ingredients that don’t harm pests as “inert.” Inert compounds, therefore, aren’t necessarily biologically or toxicologically harmless – they simply don’t kill insects or weeds. Apparently damage to the human liver isn't even a consideration for our regulators.

While this popular weed-killer results in soft, uniform grass it is particularly hazardous to those already managing chronic liver disease. Chronic liver disease is a progressive illness. Because of the popularity of Roundup and similar weed-killers, physical contact with the average patch of weed-free grass can pose a potential hazard to those who already have chronic liver disease. Poisoning from glyphosate can occur in persons who spray fields and gardens. Precaution and early treatment are crucial to protect the handlers' health from toxic poisoning. Wearing gloves and masks while using glyphosate is one very important precaution. After use, wash your hands with warm water and soap before making any hand-to-face contact.

Liver-friendly Weed Control
When visiting a park, experts advise lying on a blanket to form a barrier between your skin and the grass. And for those of us who still want to appreciate a fine lawn within the boundaries of our own yards, the healthiest options are good old fashion manual labour.

  • Till the garden and hoe the topsoil
  • Mulch garden beds and cover the ground with landscape fabric
  • Pull weeds before they go to seed

Related Posts

  • The Gene Gamble
    As recently as the last two decades, science has uncovered some exquisite truths about both honeybees and humans -- not the least of which is the barriers which separate us are thinner than we like to believe.
  • The Black Swan
    Between 1995 and 2004 the US Geology Department took on a monumental task. In the most comprehensive river study to be carried out to date, they surveyed 16 species in nine river systems over nine years. What they found was shocking.


  • http://tangergreen.com/roundup-is-toxic-stop-spraying-today/, Roundup is toxic – stop spraying today!, Retrieved August 22, 2010, TangerGreen, 2010.
  • http://www.care2.com/greenliving/11-ways-to-control-weeds-without-chemic..., 11 Ways to Control Weeds without Chemicals, Chaya, Retrieved August 22, 2010, Care2.com, Inc., 2010.
  • http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/roundup-mix-more-t..., Popular herbicide more deadly to liver cells than its active chemical alone, Negin P. Martin, PhD, Retrieved August 22, 2010, Environmental Health Services, 2010.
  • http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/roundup-weed-killer-is-t..., Weed killer kills human cells. Study intensifies debate over ‘inert’ ingredients., Crystal Gammon, Retrieved August 22, 2010, Environmental Health Services, 2010.
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19105591, Glyphosate formulations induce apoptosis and necrosis in human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cells, Seralini GE, et al, Retrieved August 22, 2010, Chemical Research in Toxicology, January 2009.
  • Franz, J.E., M.K. Mao, and J.A. Sikorski. 1997. Glyphosate: A unique global herbicide. ACS Monograph 189. Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society.
  • Sawada, Y., et al. 1988. Probable toxicity of surface-active agent in commercial herbicide containing glyphosate. Lancet 1(8580):299.
  • Tominack, R.L. et al. 1991. Taiwan National Poison Center: Survey of glyphosate-surfactant herbicide ingestions. Clin. Toxicol. 29(1):91-109.
  • Talbot, A.R. et al. 1991. Acute poisoning with a glyphosate-surfactant herbicide (“Roundup”): A review of 93 cases. Human Exp. Toxicol. 10:1-8.
  • Savitz, D.A. et al. 1997. Male pesticide exposure and pregnancy outcome. Am. J. Epidemiol. 146: 1025-1036.
  • Vigfusson, N.V. and E.R. Vyse. 1980. The effect of the pesticides, Dexon, Captan, and Roundup on sister-chromatid exchanges in human lymphocytes in vitro. Mut. Res. 79:53-57.
  • Bolognesi, C. et al. 1995. Mutagenicity testing of nine herbicides and pesticides currently used in agriculture. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 25:148-153.
  • Hassan, S.A. et al. Results of the fourth joint pesticide testing programme carried out by the IOBC/WPRS working group “Pesticides and Beneficial Organisms”. J. Appl. Ent. 105:321-329.
  • Santillo, D.J., D.M. Leslie, and P.W. Brown. 1989. Responses of small mammals and habitat to glyphosate application
  • Folmar, L.C., H.O. Sanders, and A.M. Julin. 1979. Toxicity of the herbicide glyphosate and several of its formulations to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 33:355-361.
  • Liong, P.C., W.P. Hamzah, and V. Murugan. 1988. Toxicity of some pesticides towards freshwater fishes. Malaysian Agric. J. 54(3):147-156.
  • Neskovic, N.K. et al. 1996. Biochemical and histopathological effects of glyphosate on carp, Cyprinus carpio L. Bull. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 56:-295-302.
  • Locke, D., J.A. Landivar, and D. Moseley. 1995. The effects of rate and timeing of glyphosate applications on defoliation efficiency, regrowth inhibition, lint yield, fiber quality and seed quality. Proc. Beltwide Cotton Conf. National Cotton Council of America: 1088-1090.
  • Eberback, P.L. and L.A. Douglas 1983. Persistence of glyphosate in a sandy loam. Soil Biol. Biochem. 15(4):485-487.

Rethink Food

The average consumer believes they are not very powerful - but the exact opposite is true. Corporations deliver what the consumer demands. The average meal purchased from your supermarkets travels 1500 miles to arrive at your dinner table. You can change the industrial food system with every bite.

  • Vote with your purchasing dollar
  • Read the food label
  • Buy only from companies that treat workers, animals and the environment with respect.
  • Choose foods that are in season and locally grown.
  • Buy organic or naturally grown food
  • Shop at farmers' markets
  • Cooking is fun and easy. Make the time to cook a meal
  • Our government agencies are supposed to protect us. Tell them to enforce food safety standards.

Citizen's Science - Be Involved

Wildflower Initiatives
There are over 20,000 species of wildflowers in North America belonging to 300 different families. Kissing cousins to the flowering food crops that end up on our dinner table, their colour and beauty grace our landscapes. From the delightful eye candy of wildflower fields to a groaning board full of culinary delights, honeybees make it all happen. Today half of the world-wide honeybee population has vanished.

Often there appears to be a great divide between ecological problems and probable solutions. Not in this case. Without honeybees diversity rich food sources which are naturally grown are in jeopardy. But we can turn things around using practical applications that are accessible to everyone. We just have to shift perspective - abit. Please join us.