There always seems to be something afoot that could possibly threaten our health and well-being. And we generally don’t have to look very far to find it. On occasion, the news finds us. The problem is that the threat is not always clear, nor are the actions we need to take to deal with it. It’s what makes it so hard for us to avoid tripping over what is toxic to us.

A good case in point is the latest dust-up over glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, the world’s best-selling weedkiller. Monsanto began marketing glyphosate under the Roundup name in the 1970s, and it quickly became an industry standard. In 1997, its use tripled with the introduction of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops, plantings genetically modified to withstand glyphosate in order to enable farmers to use more of the herbicide in killing crop-threatening weeds. Glyphosate is sprayed on most of the corn and soybean crops in the United States, as well as over sugar beets, canola and other crops.

In 2007 alone, the agricultural sector applied between 180 million and 185 million pounds of glyphosate to crops in this country. The home and garden sector applied 5 million to 8 million pounds, and industry, commerce and government applied 13 million to 15 million pounds of glyphosate. It was the most widely used herbicide in U.S. agriculture and second-most widely used herbicide in the home and garden sector.

The reason it should be on our radar now is that glyphosate is under a standard registration review by the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency is determining whether glyphosate use should continue as is or be limited or even halted.

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