Atrazine and Glyphosate More Harmful Than Scientists Once Thought
Monsanto marketed its potent weed killer glyphosate—the active ingredient in Roundup—and the corn and soybeans genetically engineered to withstand it, by claiming it would replace other, more toxic weed killers such as atrazine.
But, it didn’t happen.
Since the mid-1990s, American farmers have reduced the amount of atrazine spread on corn fields by just 22 percent, from 0.83 to 0.64 pounds per acre.
At the same time they have increased their glyphosate usage by 3,000 percent, from 0.03 pounds per acre to just more than 1 pound per acre. Glyphosate has become the most popular agricultural herbicide in the U.S. and globally.
Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a document—technically, a "draft assessment"—warning that atrazine threatens wildlife. This was no surprise to scientists who have studied the harmful effects of atrazine for decades. Researchers have found substantial evidence that the chemical contributes to the feminization of male frogs and to reduced sperm count in men.
Because of atrazine’s health hazards and its persistence in groundwater, the European Union has banned it in agriculture.
Recent scientific research suggests that both atrazine and glyphosate are more harmful than scientists once thought.
For instance, several studies have shown that frequent exposure to glyphosate doubles a person’s risk of developing a blood cancer known as Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Last year, the World Health Organization classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.”
In light of new evidence on the dangers of glyphosate, European Union nations failed to pass Monday a short-term extension of glyphosate’s license for agricultural use. The pesticide could be barred in the EU as soon as next month.
Proponents of GMO crops claim that they will feed the world and reduce chemical herbicide use, but we now know these promises have fallen flat. Glyphosate hasn’t replaced atrazine. Instead, GMOs have led to more superweeds. Monsanto, Dow Agrosciences and other agricultural chemical manufacturers are coming up with more toxic mixtures of chemicals to fight hardier weeds that have evolved to withstand weedkillers.
It’s a vicious cycle that will be broken only when Congress recognizes the importance of conservation on farms.
A recent report on genetically engineered crops by the National Academy of Sciences recommends that instead of turning to new designer chemicals to combat weeds, farmers should employ integrated weed management techniques such as cover crops and crop rotations. These practices can reduce the amount of chemical herbicides dumped on American farmland and can also save farmers money.
But integrated weed management gets very little funding: Only 1.2 percent of total conservation funding between 2006 and 2015 has gone to promoting prudent weed management practices.
This year, a bill proposed by the House Appropriations Committee would cut U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs that promote weed management aimed at reducing chemical applications on farms.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
- Most Meat Will Be Plant-Based or Lab-Grown in 20 Years, Analysts ... ›
- Lab-Grown Meat Debate Overlooks Cows' Range of Use Worldwide ... ›
- Will Plant-Based Meat Become the New Fast Food? - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
One city in New Zealand knows what its priorities are.
Dunedin, the second largest city on New Zealand's South Island, has closed a popular road to protect a mother sea lion and her pup, The Guardian reported.
piyaset / iStock / Getty Images Plus
- No Country Is Protecting Children's Health, Major Study Finds ... ›
- 'Every Child Born Today Will Be Profoundly Affected by Climate ... ›
By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Earth had its second-warmest year on record in 2020, just 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.04°F) behind the record set in 2016, and 0.98 degrees Celsius (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported January 14.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for 2020, the second-warmest year the globe has seen since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Record-high annual temperatures over land and ocean surfaces were measured across parts of Europe, Asia, southern North America, South America, and across parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. No land or ocean areas were record cold for the year. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Figure 2. Total ocean heat content (OHC) in the top 2000 meters from 1958-2020. Cheng et al., Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Sea surface temperature were approximately one degree Celsius below average over the past month, characteristic of moderate La Niña conditions. Tropical Tidbits
- NASA and NOAA: Last Decade Was the Hottest on Record - EcoWatch ›
- Earth Just Had Its Hottest September Ever Recorded, NOAA Says ... ›
In December of 1924, the heads of all the major lightbulb manufacturers across the world met in Geneva to concoct a sinister plan. Their talks outlined limits on how long all of their lightbulbs would last. The idea is that if their bulbs failed quickly customers would have to buy more of their product. In this video, we're going to unpack this idea of purposefully creating inferior products to drive sales, a symptom of late-stage capitalism that has since been coined planned obsolescence. And as we'll see, this obsolescence can have drastic consequences on our wallets, waste streams, and even our climate.
- Consumer Society No Longer Serves Our Needs - EcoWatch ›
- Electronic Waste: New EU Rules Target Throwaway Culture ... ›