Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup®, a weedkiller produced by Monsanto. Glyphosate functions by blocking the production of proteins needed for growth in plants. Glyphosate is an:
- antibiotic/antimicrobial agent, and
- carcinogen and endocrine disruptor that contaminates the soil.
It is found in our food, water, air, soil and rain; in blood, bone and breastmilk; is linked to a wide range of illnesses (including cancer) and death; kills butterflies and bees; and contributes to the climate crisis by reducing the soil’s ability to sequester carbon.
Less widely known (and what our group is focusing on) is the deleterious effects that Roundup and Glyphosate based herbicides have on living things in the soil, thus severely compromising overall soil health (Silva). It is is deadly to nitrogen-fixing bacteria (Cox), mycorrhizae (Chakravarty), plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPR organisms), as well as larger organisms in the soil, such as earthworms. Additionally, they are harmful to pollinators, stimulate soil-borne diseases, compromise plants’ ability to resist these diseases and reduce plants’ ability to take up nutrients (Huber; Beyond). Thus, the use of Roundup adversely affects the complex interaction between plants and the soil microbiome, undercutting and hampering the processes of photosynthesis and carbon sequestration.
Silva V, HGJ Mol, P Zomer, M Tienstra, CJ Ritsema and V Geissen. 2019. “Pesticide residues in European agricultural soils –A hidden reality unfolded.” Science of the Total Environment, 25 February 2019. 1532-1545.
Cox C. 1995. “Glyphosate, Part 2: Human exposure and ecological effects.” Journal of Pesticide Reform.15 (4): Winter 1995.
Chakravarty, P., and S. S. Sidhu. 1987. “Effect of Glyphosate, Hexazinone and Triclopyr on in Vitro Growth of Five Species of Ectomycorrhizal Fungi.” European Journal of Forest Pathology 17 (4/5): 204–10. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0329.1987.tb01017.x.
Huber D. 2019. Glyphosate -Dangers and Soil Remediation. YouTube: May 9, 2019. (75 min.)
Beyond Pesticides. 2016. “Loss of soil microbial diversity negatively affects ecosystem services.” Feb. 8, 2016. (cites the study: Delgado-Baquerizo, M., Maestre, F., Reich, P. et al. 2016. “Microbial diversity drives multifunctionality in terrestrial ecosystems.” Nature Communications 7, 10541. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10541)
Of the are four bills introduced in the current MA legislative session, two were reported favorably out of committee.
- H. 792 would essentially ban glyphosate from the State;
- H. 791 would stop the use of most toxic pesticides, including glyphosate, on school & child care center grounds (excluding emergency situations).
Two bills that did not pass would also reduce our exposure to this chemical.
- S. 447 would empower municipalities to regulate pesticides at the local level, instead of in the Commonwealth’s pesticide board;
- S. 499 would stop the use of glyphosate on all State-owned/operated public lands (excluding emergency situations); and
Visit the NOFA Mass website to take further action.