Experts say the weedkiller’s impact on soil health represents a serious threat to Europe’s long-term food security.
When François Peaucellier talks about soil, he sounds like a sommelier. “It’s full of little leaves,” says the French farmer, holding up a clod from his field. “The earth is supple and beautiful. There is a surface life that is superb.”
Peaucellier, who grows cereals and vegetables on a 200-hectare farm in the Hauts-de-France region north of Paris, is part of a small but growing movement of farmers who are cutting back on pesticides not so much out of concerns for human health — but because they worry about what it does to the soil.
Public attention on the risk of pesticides has focused on what chemicals like glyphosate do to human health. A U.S. federal jury last week ordered Germany’s Bayer to pay more than $80 million to a man who claimed his cancer was caused by exposure to the weedkiller.