Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Roundup boys and girls, is here to stay!

I know this is going to sound sooooo, stupid, and sooooo, staged; but, "back when I was a kid in school", we learned a lot about the half life of radioactive fallout.  We were all scared that Fat Nikita would bomb us with his nuclear arsenal and then we would wipe out he and his people with our nukes.  And of course there would be nuclear winter, and the length of time we would have to spend in our prefab bomb shelters was dependent on the half life of the radioactive elements in the fallout.  The upside was no more Red threat, the down side was nuclear winter would last several thousand years.  That would entail storing a lot of freeze-dried food and beans.  Not to mention what to do with all that solid waste.  That idea alone might be what made those bomb designers go in and create cleaner nuclear devices, ones that produced nice big booms, but gave off far less nasty long term, long half life radioactive isotopes.  Ones that had the nuclear winter potential in under a hundred years instead of thousands.  Still a lot of shit to deal with though. 

I think that people from my generation know and understand the concept of half life much more so than younger ones.  We lived it, we feared it.  Today, half life is still a big concept in our daily lives, and it commands our fear even more now than in my youth.  So just a bit of information first, half life means, for our purposes today, when a substance, in this case, Roundup, is sprayed onto the ground in a field, then the half life of the chemicals is the time frame it takes for one half of the chemical to degrade.  That doesn't mean that in two half lives the chemical is gone, it means that it progressively degrades by half, leaving measurable amounts in the substrate six, eight, even twelve or more half life time frames down the road.  The problem is compounded when more of the substance is added to the substrate in more and more regular applications.  There are other circumstances that need to be considered as well, such as the ability of the chemical itself to leave the substrate through the process of simple runoff.  When it rains, heavily, excess chemical is simply washed away.  This happens because we see it, it is measurable.  The waterways of industrialized nations all contain extensive amounts of glyphosate pollution. 

Now comes the hard and tricky part.  The half life of glyphosate as defined by Monsanto, the company that developed the chemical, is between one and eight days. (Monsanto Half Life)  Now, let's remember that the Monsanto study is for the active ingredient glyphosate only and does not have any studies listed for the complete chemical application for Roundup itself.  Roundup contains glyphosate and a series of surfactant chemicals playing an adjuvant role for the action of the active ingredient.  The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has published a study that tells a very different story.  Their claim is that in warm moist acidic soils with normal aerobic and anaerobic bacterial populations the half life can be as short as 4 weeks.  That is a little different from the Monsanto claim now isn't it?  Now of course the fun begins.  Roundup is readily dissolved in water.  Degradation in aqueous form is a whole lot different than when exposed to soil microbes.  Half life in water is greater than 35 days and in fact the eventual removal of glyphosate from water is a result of sedimentation and not degradation.  (Cali's best info)  This info also states that the EPA tests show that the half life of most glyphosate residues that sank to the bottoms of ponds was up to 63 days.  What this means is that it takes a while to leave water systems.  A long while.

Now comes the stuff I couldn't find.  The half life of Roundup in arid soils.  Most of the information available is for application in areas where there is a lot of rainfall.  That of course leads to a lot different microbial systems in those areas than what we have here in the desert.  Those farmers still spray the stuff everywhere, they just don't know what happens to it once it leaves the spray gun.  It means that no one knows what is happening here in Arizona and other arid areas where irrigation is the main source of water for agriculture.  The fact is, we don't know what happens to all the Roundup that is sprayed in the Southwest.  We don't know how deep it goes toward the groundwater, nor how much is sitting there within the water table that provides much of the existence for life here in the desert.  

However we are watched over by the forthright efforts and timeless diligence of the agency that is the guardian of the American environment, the EPA. (Man but this one is scary, EPA allowable contaminants) It's true, the EPA did in fact raise the allowable residue amounts on feed crops for animals as well as on fruits and vegetables for human consumption last year to levels as high as 200 parts per billion.  (EPA and Roundup) And it is true that studies on rats show that exposure of as little as .00005 part per billion in the feed of pregnant rats affected brain development.  And by looking at the EPA link above, we see that those guys have decided that it is okay to drink municipal water that has .7 parts per billion in it.  The EPA also states that the main problem with glyphosate exposure is kidney failure.  And, the main cause of exposure in drinking water is, agricultural runoff. 

So, where does that leave us?  For those that can't, and don't want to put two and two together, it leaves us with an ever increasing concentration of a chemical that in and of itself, the manufacturer told us was harmless.  But more recent research is proving they lied to us.  And that the complete compound, Roundup, contains dangerous chemicals that are toxic and of which we are just recently beginning to research just how bad they are for us.  It means that Roundup is here to stay.  Even if we outlawed Roundup usage tomorrow, that the stuff will persist in our environment for years.  It means that researchers in Germany found glyphosate in the urine of EVERY SINGLE person they tested.  It means that last week a study showed glyphosate was measured in breast milk in American women. (it was a small sample)  However, the EPA tells us that the stuff is NOT bioaccumulative and CANNOT do that.  It tells us that maybe, just maybe, countries like Sri Lanka, South Africa and El Salvador have banned Roundup usage because they have the welfare of their people at the forefront of their actions, and not the welfare of corporations.  Here is some more reading about glyphosate, and the EPA.  (EPA bought and paid for) (Humans and Roundup) (Roundup Reality) (GMO, Roundup and You)

But it's not a conspiracy.

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