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North American wildlands sprayed heavily with undisclosed volumes of glyphosate; scientists admit environmental impacts totally unknown


Glyphosate
(NaturalNews) Federal land managers are engaged in a reckless experiment as they spray North American wildlands with enormous quantities of herbicides without collecting any data on the effects of these practices, warned a team of international researchers from Europe, the United States, Mexico and Canada in a study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

The study marks the first effort to quantify herbicide use on North American wildlands.

"The numbers are much less than those for croplands, but they are astonishing," said lead author Viktoria Wagner, of Masaryk University in the Czech Republic.

The most popular herbicide used on North American wildlands appears to be glyphosate (Roundup), which is also the top herbicide in the United States. Glyphosate use has increased by 15 times since the widespread adoption of Roundup-resistant genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the 1990s.

Poisoning the land ... to save it?

The biggest surprise for the researchers was just how little information was available about herbicide use in North American parks, forests, rangelands and refuges. The researchers found information on herbicide use for just 1.2 million acres of such wildlands, out of 640 million acres in the United States alone.

They found that 443,000 pounds of herbicides were sprayed on that 1.2 million acres – equivalent to "the weight of 13 school buses," in Wagner's words. That comes out to just under 0.4 pounds per acre, about half the concentration used on U.S. farmland in 2014.

Yet, if those numbers are representative, herbicide use on wildlands would come out to 230 million pounds per year, only slightly less than the 250 million pounds used on farmlands annually.

This massive herbicide use is part of an effort to contain or eradicate invasive species that threaten to overrun native ecosystems, according to coauthor Cara R. Nelson of the University of Montana. Among the species targeted, Nelson says, are cheat grass (which threatens the endangered sage grouse by replacing its foods sources and causing big, hot wildfires), kudzu (which smothers plants and trees in the South), and water hyacinth (which chokes other life out of lakes and ponds).

Effects of spraying unknown

The study authors acknowledge the severity of invasive species problems in many regions of North America, but warn that widespread herbicide use is a completely untested strategy that may be worse than doing nothing.

The most alarming finding, they said, was that nearly no records are being kept about when, where or how much herbicide is being used, how much it costs, or – perhaps most critically – what effects the spraying has on targeted weeds or other species.

The U.S. spends billions of dollars yearly on "ecological restoration" projects, many of them heavily reliant on herbicide spraying.

"The point of our paper," said Nelson, "is that we're using a very large amount of herbicide ... but we know almost nothing about effects."

Affected species may include plants, pollinators and other animal species, as well as human beings.

The researchers found that glyphosate was the most commonly used herbicide on wildlands, even though its broad-spectrum character means that it indiscriminately eradicates native as well as invasive plants. Two other commonly used herbicides were found to have similar effects.

If the history of glyphosate use in agriculture is any guide, spraying this poison across wildlands could have dire consequences. For example, glyphosate has been shown to eradicate native milkweed, leading to a crash in monarch butterfly populations. It has also led to an explosion in Roundup-resistant weeds, rendering large tracts of North American cropland unusable. This experience suggests that even if glyphosate removes invasive species in the short term, in the long-term, it may actually make the problems worse.

Glyphosate is also known to be highly toxic to humans and other animals, disrupting the endocrine system at very low concentrations, and probably causing cancer.

But, just because your environment is being poisoned with Roundup doesn't mean you have to eat it in your food. Boost your diet with Organic Hemp Juvenate, a blend of organic hemp protein and other plant superfoods designed to nourish your entire body.

Sources for this article include:

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