dead bean field

Glyphosate – the Most Used Agricultural Chemical in History

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, was once used only sparingly. It had to be, as the herbicide kills basically any plant it touches.

This meant that although it killed many weeds, farmers couldn't safely apply it near their crops, lest they risk killing off their crops as well. It was only used where farmers wanted to kill all vegetation, such as between the rows in orchards or in industrial yards.

February 16, 2016 | Source: Mercola | by Dr. Mercola

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, was once used only sparingly. It had to be, as the herbicide kills basically any plant it touches.

This meant that although it killed many weeds, farmers couldn’t safely apply it near their crops, lest they risk killing off their crops as well. It was only used where farmers wanted to kill all vegetation, such as between the rows in orchards or in industrial yards.

This all changed in 1996, when Monsanto’s so-called “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-tolerant crops (soy, corn and cotton) were introduced.

The GE crops are impervious to glyphosate’s toxic effects, which allows farmers to spray the chemical onto their crops with abandon.  And spray they did.

Glyphosate Is the Most Used Agricultural Chemical in History

Since 1996, the use of glyphosate has risen nearly 15-fold, according to a new study published in Environmental Sciences Europe.1 Since glyphosate was introduced in 1974, 1.8 million tons have been applied to U.S. fields, and two-thirds of that volume has been sprayed in the last 10 years.

Worldwide, 9.4 million tons have been sprayed from 1974 to 2014. The chemical has now earned the ominous title of the most heavily used agricultural chemical of all time.2

In fact, the analysis showed that farmers sprayed enough glyphosate in 2014 to apply 0.8 pounds of the chemical to every acre of cultivated cropland in the U.S. and nearly 0.5 a pound of glyphosate to all cropland worldwide.

GE herbicide-tolerant crops account for more than half (56 percent) of global glyphosate use. The researchers stated:3

“In the U.S., no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use. This is likely the case globally, but published global pesticide use data are sparse.

Glyphosate will likely remain the most widely applied pesticide worldwide for years to come, and interest will grow in quantifying ecological and human health impacts.”