No, not that kind of weed problem!
But I do have green things that are not grass growing on my lawn (see above). After my triumph yesterday at getting the garden treated with organic fertilizer, my darling (conventional) landscaper now wants to “zap” my weeds. He wants to use a systemic herbicidal poison like RoundUp. RoundUp is the world’s best-selling herbicide, but there’s growing evidence that it isn’t due to its health benefits.
Manufacturers Monsanto claim it to be as “safe as table salt”, but sources like Nature’s Country Store http://www.naturescountrystore.com/roundup/ cite a 1996 lawsuit in which Monsanto agreed to stop using these terms in advertising the product in the state of New York. Whilst not actually admitting to any wrongdoing, Monsanto “paid the state of New York $250,000 in settlement of this suit,” the source continues. “When Monsanto violated the first settlement agreement by advertising within New York that RoundUp is “safe,” a second agreement was negotiated.”
In 2009, a French court confirmed that Monsanto had been convicted of false advertising) as its main ingredient, glyphosate, has been classified by the European Union as “dangerous for the environment”, as well as “toxic for aquatic organisms”. Do I want to support a company with these values?
Further studies suggest worse, however. One quoted on Scientific American found that ingredients in RoundUp – particularly the animal-based surfactant polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA – can damage or kill human human embryonic, placental, and umbilical cord cells. Do I want this in my garden?
In August this year, Reuters ran a story on how repeated use of the herbicide can cause soil and plant damage, and may even “be linked to cancer, miscarriage and other health problems in people and livestock.” (Read the report here.) Is this even going to help my garden?
The threats are not restricted to RoundUp, mind. This recent article from Care2.com warns that Atrazine (the second most widely-used herbicide in the United States, now banned in Europe) may cause reproductive anomalies in animals and humans, even when the levels are below the currently recommended “safe” level.
Chemical herbicides are poisons. Poisons are not good for people (I keep imagining the kid’s voice from the Oreo ad – “Mom says poison’s not good for dawgs…”).
When he saw the look on my face, my landscaper offered to let me pull them all up one by one instead. But come on – I have a job, a blog, two kids and a house to look after. I seriously do not have time for that.
So now I know that I don’t want to use chemical herbicides to sort out my weed problem.
But what DO I do?