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Weed Management and Pesticides - Maine Farm to Food

Glyphosate herbicide ban won’t save anyone from cancer, will harm environment

On 30, Oct 2017 | No Comments | In Weed Management and Pesticides | By Admin

By Genetic Literacy

The widely used weedkiller glyphosate is available in every garden store, but now there are fears it can cause cancer.

Politicians in Europe were sufficiently alarmed that the European parliament called for a ban.

Let’s hope they … look at the evidence – or rather the lack of it. While banning glyphosate is unlikely to make people any healthier, it is certain to harm the environment.

Until recently, every regulatory agency that had assessed the safety of glyphosate had concluded it poses no risk for people. Then, in 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) sparked concern by adding glyphosate to its list of things that “probably” cause cancers.

Before you run from the room screaming because you once ate some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream – recently found to contain glyphosate – you should know that red meat, wood fires, emissions from frying, shift work and drinking beverages hotter than 65°C are all on the same IARC list.

The IARC’s list of things that definitely cause cancers includes alcohol, sunshine, diesel exhaust fumes, processed meats, outdoor air pollution, salted fish, soot and wood dust. That’s right, beer and bacon are more dangerous than glyphosate.

So the evidence that glyphosate is harming our health is weak or non-existent. But it certainly has environmental benefits.

STUDY: Commercial Crop Yields Reveal Strengths and Weaknesses for Organic Agriculture in the United States – GMO Answers

Land area devoted to organic agriculture has increased steadily over the last 20 years in the United States, and elsewhere around the world. A primary criticism of organic agriculture is lower yield compared to non-organic systems. Previous analyses documenting the yield deficiency in organic production have relied mostly on data generated under experimental conditions, but these studies do not necessarily reflect the full range of innovation or practical limitations that are part of commercial agriculture.

The analysis we present here offers a new perspective, based on organic yield data collected from over 10,000 organic farmers representing nearly 800,000 hectares of organic farmland. We used publicly available data from the United States Department of Agriculture to estimate yield differences between organic and conventional production methods for the 2014 production year. Similar to previous work, organic crop yields in our analysis were lower than conventional crop yields for most crops.

Averaged across all crops, organic yield averaged 80% of conventional yield. However, several crops had no significant difference in yields between organic and conventional production, and organic yields surpassed conventional yields for some hay crops. The organic to conventional yield ratio varied widely among crops, and in some cases, among locations within a crop. For soybean (Glycine max) and potato (Solanum tuberosum), organic yield was more similar to conventional yield in states where conventional yield was greatest. The opposite trend was observed for barley (Hordeum vulgare), wheat (Triticum aestevum), and hay crops, however, suggesting the geographical yield potential has an inconsistent effect on the organic yield gap.

Read the full study here.