Round up the Roundup
I recently took a sentimental journey to the place where my mother grew up and I lived for four years in the ’70s, the Camas Prairie at the base of the Idaho panhandle. This is farm country that has some of the richest grain-growing soil in the world.
It was a chance for me to get back in touch with a culture I left long ago. I was raised in a Chicago suburb and now I live in the Roaring Fork Valley in Colorado.
The conversation turned to Roundup, the glyphosate-based herbicide made by Monsanto, which gave us Agent Orange. The weed killer has been linked to a 40% increase in the likelihood of cancer by a University of Washington study. It has cost its manufacturer billions of dollars in lawsuits.
The farmers on the Camus Prairie still use Roundup, often quite near harvest. Maybe you can grow an organic vegetable garden by pulling weeds, but that’s impractical for a 10,000-acre wheat and barley farm.
Farmers aren’t evil people. The problem is the system. Like the rest of America, the farming industry is controlled by capitalism and its misguided motivation. The objective is to make money, not to produce a quality, healthy product. High yields mean more money and if you don’t use some kind of herbicide, the weeds will choke out your crop.
This situation reminds me of the opioid epidemic. For centuries, opioids have been the only high impact pain-killer there is. Unfortunately, they’re also highly addictive and overdoses can kill you. We need to alleviate severe pain, but there has to be another way. It’s the same way with glyphosates. There has to be another way to kill weeds that doesn’t cause cancer.
Fred Malo Jr.
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