Why do we still use glyphosate?
Glyphosate was first registered in the 1960s.
Most of us know it as "Round Up". Not just a weed-killer, but a powerful substance that will kill any plant it comes into contact with.
Glyphosate was introduced into agriculture in South Africa in the 1990s, around the time Monsanto, which made the weed-killer, started selling a seed that could withstand it.
These genetic modified (GM) seeds and resultant crops are pretty much our staple diet.
Farmers were near-guaranteed their yield on this model.
It was a farming revolution built on glyphosate and owners Monsanto, acquired by Bayer in 2016, are global leaders on this front.
In South Africa, there are no regulations as to how much farmers should or are allowed to spray on to crops. It is also unclear how much glyphosate consumer can safely eat.
Bread, pap and every gluten-free product (unless they're truly organic) are sprayed with glyphosate, which cannot be washed off.
It's absorbed through the soil.
In 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the IARC (International Association for Research on Cancer), announced that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”. Since then, many countries and states around the world are rethinking its use. Some, such as France, Punjab and Portugal, have already banned it.
Other countries are holding the pesticide under review.
There have been numerous lawsuits by those who claim it gave them non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Last month, a California jury awarded more than $2billion (about R28.8bn) to a couple who claimed Bayer AG’s glyphosate-based Round Up weed killer caused their cancer.
Other glyphosate studies have linked the chemical to a number of health issues, including, but not limited to, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, autism, birth defects, various forms of cancer, Celiac disease, colitis, heart disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, kidney disease, liver disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Farmer Angus McIntosh of Farmer Angus, a livestock producer, says: “With glyphosate receiving so much attention around the world, I want to know why our government isn't doing anything about it?
"South Africa is the only country in the entire world where the population's staple diet, that being maize, is genetically modified.
“These maize crops are just one of the many crops, including wheat, soya, cotton, vegetables, wine, fruit, nuts and sugar cane, that are being sprayed with glyphosate and eventually ending up in our food and water sources.”
“Today, there is still no mention of glyphosate content on any packaging. People don't know what they are eating.
"Essentially, they are being forced to eat genetically modified food, laced with poison that no-one actually knows the long-term effects of," the farmer said.