In reference to Dale Wilson's posting of his 1970s education on glyphosate,
I should say that I received much the same instruction but my response was
more guarded. In contrast to Mr. Wilson's perspective, I do not think it is
wise to have soil particles immobilize contaminants, because in the great
world of soil microbiology, the immobilization of contaminants displaces
other binding activity that soil particles would do in the absence of
contaminants. This is not, of course, saying that we should be using toxins
that are more mobile. Hardly. Nor do I think it great to learn that
bacteria break down glyphosate in the soil as that activity represents a
misappropriation of bacterial activity as well.
What do bacteria do when contaminants are not in the soil? Something else,
much more natural, I presume.
What happens to bacteria that metabolize glyphosate? Why the presumption
of no harm?
What happens to bacteria progeny?
What happens to the microbes that eat glyphosate metabolizing bacteria?
Why does the chain of investigation presumably stop when glyphosate is
metabolized to other surrogate compounds?
If insects develop resistance to insecticides in a few generations, are the
bacteria, with considerably shorter reproductive cycles, developing a
capacity to not metabolize glyphosate?
I think it is naive to increase the contaminant loading on soil microbial
constituents and the progenitor constituents in the food chain.
I should also add that when it comes to pesticide research, I am more
inclined to trust polemic publications like the Journal of Pesticide Reform
because I can trust that their funds do not come from pesticide companies,
which is more than we can say for most University pesticide research. Have
you ever wondered about the selection process for the "peers" in a
peer-reviewed journal? Team players play this game, not iconoclasts. Which
leads me to another interesting observation. If the Journal of Pesticide
Reform published untruths, surely the pesticide manufacturers would have
litigated them into oblivion by now? Not so, ergo credibility that weighs
in with more defensible integrity than some jury-rigged peer-reviewed
I am also troubled by hearing that a farmer farms organically but uses
glyphosate to control nuisance weeds around the mailbox, fire hydrant or
other non-production areas. Confidentiality prohibits the naming of the
company, but one major manufacturer of organic foods did this once, and
once the investors and lawyers found out, that was the last time they did
this out of a legitimate concern for misrepresentation even though areas
subject to organic certification were not affected. Why place assets,
goodwill and integrity at risk, whether a large manufacturer, a small farm,
or the US President? Organic means alot of thngs to a lot of different
people, but to me farming organically is not something that is done
selectively, here, there, but not over there, and not telling anybody, not
even your spouse...certification does not certify product but instead
certifies process and underlying the process is a way of being in
relationship with the land, water and the living constituents there-in. I
respect that individuals make their own choices, and I am careful to not
suggest a disrespect for those individual choices. A farmer has the right
to operate their farm as they please. There is a widespread presumption
that the organic consumer is only interested in keeping pesticides out of
their food and their bodies, but this is a misreading and underappreciation
for the depth of the public's concern about pesticide use anywhere. Using
Round-up at the farm gate suggests to a discriminating consumer, a shopper
with a land ethic, a water ethic, that both oars are not in the water yet.
I want political leadership from a President that is truthful. I expect as
much integrity from my food producers, which is why I appreciate the post
admitting to using Round-up at the mailbox. Honesty helps us all make
informed choice. Ask not what a farmer can do for you, but ask what a
farmer does for the whole farm and that community of living things on it,
under it, and beyond the farm gate.
Douglas B. Johnson
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