2019 is a year many people have waited for. For once it appears that a major corporation is paying out compensation to those injured by its product. Another case was recently decided against Bayer’s Roundup product in the amount of two billion dollars (yes, billion with a B). Roundup exposure lawyers have brought over 13,000 cases against the company. Additionally, many cities and communities across the country are outright banning Roundup.
This has prompted Bayer to commit $5.6 Billion into finding a glyphosate alternative. It may be safe to say that Roundup will begin to decline in use. But if Roundup, the world’s leading herbicide is going to be replaced, what will it be replaced with?
Pesticides in Food Production
Herbicides and pesticides are an important part of mass food production, and it’s safe to say they won’t be going anywhere. It is certainly no secret that when you are dealing with chemicals designed to kill living plants, insects and fungi, there are likely going to be unwanted side effects associated with them. It is quite a task to create something which is designed to kill one thing, and not harm another. Not to say it cannot be done, but it is certainly a complex issue.
One possible replacement for Roundup may be fluorine-based pesticides. These pesticides are showing a lot of promise to commercial industries. I first came across this proposal in a report titled Fluoride and Fluorinated Pesticides Market 2019-2024.
The report talks a lot about the advantages of fluorine-based pesticides, mostly in relation to killing insects, and controlling fungus, but there are also fluorine-containing herbicides as well. In fact, the controversy surrounding fluorine-based pesticides is nothing new. In 2011, the EPA moved to begin phasing out certain fluorine-based herbicides.
Why Fluorine Pesticides?
Fluorine-based pesticides are being considered as a better alternative to existing pesticides for a few reasons. Rather than explain the reasons that these types of pesticides are being considered myself I will leave it to those in the industry.
“Fluorine-containing pesticides have the advantages of high selectivity, high suitability, high added value, low cost, low toxicity, low residue, and environmental friendliness, and are the trend of modern pesticide development.” [Market Talk News]
Supposing that all of the above is true, it appears that fluorine-containing pesticides could possibly become one of the leading herbicides to replace Roundup. Though this is not a claim made by the industry directly, Roundup is likely going to be replaced, and these types of pesticides will likely be considered. As one possible alternative to Roundup, it is important to look at the risks which fluorine-based herbicides could pose. Whether or not these fluorine-based herbicides will be the new standard or not, fluorine-based pesticides are already in use, and there is certainly a push to expand their usage.
Are Fluorine-containing Pesticides Safe for Human Consumption?
This is perhaps one of the biggest medical debates that there is today. For the sake of clarification, fluoride is a chemical compound which is based on the fluorine element. Fluorine is the elemental form, fluoride is a compound. In treated city water fluorine is often found in the form of sodium fluoride. Of course, there are subtle differences between the effects of different fluoride compounds, and fluorine itself. Fluorine in its pure form is highly toxic, but the debate begins when talking about fluoride compounds and dosages.
Due to the difficulty in filtering through truth and fiction when it comes to fluoride safety, I asked a professional. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a nutrition, diet and health expert, helped cut to the heart of the issue.
Here is what she had to say:
“Fluoride is a poison.”
Simple and straight to the point! But, she also goes on to explain some of the specific risks associated with long term fluoride exposure.
“Several U.S. and Chinese studies have shown that young children who drink water with fluoride levels >1.0 mg/L have a significantly lower IQ. Learning disabilities, including diminished reading and writing ability are attributed to fluoride.
“Boys who drank water containing fluoride levels, considered to be safe by federal guidelines, are 5 times more likely to have osteosarcoma (a rare bone cancer) than boys who drank unfluoridated water as young children. Research worldwide strongly suggests that fluoride is responsible for other diseases including those associated with kidney, liver, thyroid gland, and reproductive organs.
“Fluoride ion clearly interferes with the biological activity of magnesium ion. And since magnesium does so much in the body, the side effects are often too widespread to recognize or even quantify.” - Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, bestselling Author of The Magnesium Miracle and Hormone Balance.
Of course, there is a lot of science to back her statements up too. Fluoride is one of the most “bone-seeking” elements known. According to The Untold Story of Fluoridation: Revisiting the Changing Perspectives, a study on the NCBI site:
“Fluoride is an acute toxin, with a rating slightly higher than lead. It is, in fact, one of the most bone-seeking elements known to human beings. Excess fluoride causes several diseases, such as osteoporosis, arthritis, brittle bones, cancer, infertility in women, brain damage, Alzheimer's disease, and thyroid disorders.”
To summarize, there are certainly long term risks associated with fluoride consumption. Fluoride is already in the water, adding more fluoride to our diets in the form of herbicides and pesticides, is likely not a great idea. But, it is also only one possible Roundup alternative.
Other Roundup Alternatives
Of course there are many, many, many alternatives to Roundup which exist already. Many such as atrazine, have been sparking controversy for years. There are too many possible alternatives to cover in one place. It will be interesting to see which rise to the top, here is an article on Roundup alternatives. With Bayer having slated $5.6 Billion into finding an alternative, it will be interesting and important to see what alternatives are being proposed.
Despite the focus on the victories people are having in court due to Roundup exposure, it’s important to remember that there are many other harmful or potentially harmful chemical compounds in agricultural use. With the likelihood of Roundup being replaced as the world’s leading herbicides, we need to be vigilant that we aren’t replacing it with something much worse. Of course, the simple solution is to buy organic, grow your own food, and grow food with your community.
Unfortunately, avoiding the many chemicals in food production is not easily achieved, especially for those who struggle financially. Awareness and being active in spreading that awareness are crucial as we continue to make it through a society laced with 1000’s of chemicals. Together we can make changes for the better, but it will take time.
Douglas Dedrick is landscaper, documentarian and environmental law writer. When he’s not looking for things to investigate, he is usually writing articles about lawn care. Connect with him at Healing Law, and read all of Douglas’ MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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