In the USA a case has been heard against Monsanto regarding it’s Roundup product. The plaintiff has been awarded US$289 million or about AU$395 million for Roundup contributing to his terminal cancer. Monsanto are going to appeal the decision and have denied the link between glyphosate and cancer.
The Cancer Council of Australia’s (CCA) CEO, Professor Sanchia Aranda, said there are some studies which do show some linkage to cancer from glyphosate. The quality of the studies vary, but the CCA CEO also noted that from the court case there was “some suggestion in the US court case that they have more information than what they’re letting on”.
To read the ABC news article see the following link:
While the quality of the studies is varied, taking sensible precautions when using these types of products would be a good idea eg using a mask and protective clothing. If in the future the links are well established (obviously they may also be quashed) then taking steps to protect your health now may pay dividends at that time.
Good advice for the use of all herbicides and pesticides. (apologies for stating what those of us with acres of weeds already know)
There are also legal requirements that all of these types of products must be sold with directions (APVMA Label) that provides strict directions on safe use - personally, environmentally, permitted use, safe disposal requirements and emergency response.
If you have lost the label or find the print too small to read the manufacturers or distributors also provide duplicates on their web sites. A responsible retailer should also be able to provide a larger sized copy.
Failure to read the labels fully and comply may not only put the user at risk of harm, it may have legal consequences.
A few hot tips are:
0 - Always read the instructions on the label, Note many labels have peel open panels that are not that obvious that hide the detailed requirements. They often print to many pages as a pdf.
1 - for home use if you can buy a premixed product it will reduce the hazards arising from mixing concentrate
2 - for many products mistakes or accidents handling the concentrate can have serious consequences. If the label says to wear enclosed eye protection or goggles or use a particular type of glove (you can purchase long armed chem safe to AS gloves at any reputable retailer) it is necessary.
3 - for anyone using concentrate or larger volumes there are training courses available that cover safe use of these chemicals. The APVMA administered regulations and permits for use of any of these chemicals may require this as a precondition of use.
4 - Worried - Always read the instructions on the label a second time.
note: Home use of certain herbicides may be provided for through the minor use permits.
The peel open labels are better than none, but I usually forget something like the mixing rates after I have opened the container, and when I have misplaced by magnifying glass. I download and keep an extra hard copy with all to avoid this problem.
Personally. I consider Monsanto to be the most unethical corporation on the planet.
I clearly remember a documentary some years ago which showed that after US canola farmers who wanted nothing to do with GM crops had their fields contaminated with Monsanto GM canola seeds from neighbouring properties being sued by Monsanto for growing their GM canola without a license.
Monsanto is also the wonderful organisation who produced Agent Orange for the Vietnam War and the deadly PCB’s formerly used in electrical transformers and switch gear.
In more recent times, they had the absolute temerity to apply to the ACCC for anti-dumping protection over the price of Chinese made glyphosate which was selling at the time for around $10 a litre in comparison to around $35 a litre for Roundup.
Some years ago, I bumped into a retired business owner and former customer whom I had known for many years.
He told me that he was not very well and that he had finally been issued with a Gold Card from DVA.
He explained that his health problems were caused due to his National Service during the Vietnam War when he and others were loading aircraft with Agent Orange. He said that their clothing would be dripping wet with the chemical.
I have not seen him since and I would not be surprised if he has succumbed to his illnesses, so I cannot ask him what, if any, warning labeling was on the drums containing the chemical.
It is also worth noting that civil cases in the US there is a low onus of proof and that if there is any doubt, often the victim is given the benefit of the doubt. What would be interesting is whether the employer required PPE to be worn and whether there were historical warning in relation to PPE. I expect that in Australia should such a case end up in the courts, both the employer and the chemical manufacturer would be defendants.
If those who are interested, the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Roundup 540 can be found here:
A text copy of Roundup540 label can be found here:
It is worth noting that Roundup or other Gyphosate products, the common concentration sold in retailers is 360g/. The above MSDS is for a that which often used in commercial/agricultural applications and if of higher strength/concentration than that bought that by the home gardener.
Monsanto’s patent on the chemical ‘glyphosate’ common trade marked as ‘roundup’ expired in 2000. It now has numerous other product trade names and manufacturers. So any concerns should not be limited to a product from Monsanto.
Eg Yates - Zero, PCT Surefire Aqua 360 to name a few.
Look for the active ingredient - glyphosate, which must be clearly included in the labeling to be sure.
Bunnings website lists 1 litre of 360g/L concentrate Roundup for $29.95. It also lists 5 litres of 7.4g/L of sprayer ready Roundup for $55.48.
The contents of the 1 litre of concentrate would produce just under 10 X 5 litre sprayer ready bottles, effectively converting $29.95 to almost $554.80.
So effectively without taking the cost of the extra packaging, handling and transport into consideration, the addition of almost 49 litres of water creates an additional value of almost $524.95, or around $10.70 per litre of water.
And you thought your mains water charges were expensive. Talk about smoke and mirrors.
Before racing out to buy the concentrate consider how much you might really need. 1 litre of 360gm/l mixed is enough to nuke every plant and blade of grass on a vacant traditional 400m2 block ten times over. A one litre spray bottle of premix is enough for most average homes. Responsibly disposing of unused herbicides will need a one off trip to a muster site or special council collection day. A little goes a long way in the average urban yard.
Hopefully not. Otherwise some might consider drinking it.
Possibly the same reasoning as for Franklin Spring mineral water which costs more without the coke in it?
Oddly enough, I did a ‘chemical users workshop’ in the Adelaide Hills many years ago - to learn of such things. We were told two things that stood out at the time, one being eye protection was incredibly important because it was a direct liquid interface to the body from the outside world, or something to that effect - I’m not in medicine in any way, but it sounded plausible. Second thing being Glyphosate is so safe, it takes over a litre of concentrate ingested neat to kill an adult human. Yeah, maybe to kill them immediately, but over time is a whole different story I’d bet. Seemed like an odd thing to say …
The ABC refers to US journalist Carey Gillam who has written a book revealing documents she said showed decades of tactics by Monsanto aimed at “manipulating science, arm-twisting regulators, confusing consumers and silencing critics”.
But, there also appears to be some criticism of Carey Gillam work. For example,
It appears that some anti-GMO activists may be targeting Roundup as a way to discredit GMO (esp. Roundup ready crops produced by Monsanto) and to create alarm within the community in relation to use of Roundup on crops. If their activism towards Roundup works, it could be a major turning point for the activism movement in relation to discrediting the science behind GMO crops.
If one can believe some of the information by the science community, recognised anti-GMO (and anti-Monsanto) activists are also providing expert witness testimonies to courts where claims are made against glyphosate. It would be interesting to know if this has the case in this court case.
I have been using Glyphosate since it was first registered in Australia in (about) 1976 in a farming environment. I never used it exclusively because of the fear of weed/grass resistance so I alternated between other sprays that were more harmful to the user but unfortunately not as much to weeds. But I have always treated any type of chemical with respect and did as others here have mentioned - followed the directions & warnings on the labels. And used common sense re windy days.
But to me personally the advent of Glyphosate meant that we could stop using the arsenic based sprays. Those using arsenic based sprays were alway wise to get their fingernails analysed periodically for arsenic buildup in the body. Good stuff.
Ironically, I go into hospital on ther 30th of this month (August) to have a tumor cut off my right kidney…, how bad it is we don’t know as yet…, but my first thought was either the Hepticlor (it was a Termite spray here in Australia for years and I was a concreter) or the “Roundup” (Glyphosate) which I have been spraying for the last 30 years.
Neither may of had any influence over my tumor…, but this “was” my first thought…, after all…, something caused them.
The lesser of the evils. I can’t say I disagree with what you are saying … there is idealism, and then there is reality. Sometimes they intersect, often they don’t. Thankyou for your relevant and interesting post on this. Really. It made me think.
I hope for the best for you. Yes something did cause them - and for whatever caused them I hope the people you are entrusting your treatment to can offer the best possible care. If, in some small or big way, the tumours were caused by something that can be identified then I hope it is shouted from the rooftops.
I recall using spray that was arsenious trioxide (white arsenic) and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), the latter was included to make the arsenic compound more soluble. The concentrate was thick like warm honey and very dangerous but few precautions were taken. You could just buy it in hardware shops. Of course arsenic does not degrade in the environment, it would be there for years until it eventually leached away into the waterways. The product had the cute name of “Camelia”. I never understood why. Ignorance is bliss.
In considering how to improve his lot one bushman and property owner I know in passing recently advised. The use of sump oil is great for keeping the weeds down along the fence line. Saves taking the oil away, costs nothing, and is not bad for his health like other chemicals?
edit note: This is not an endorsement of the practice which is environmentally evil and not legal.
The other sage advice was that bending or kneeling down to weed can cause damage to your back and or knees, and hence you should choose other options.
In making these choices on what to buy or use and is it safe, how important is it to have full and proper knowledge of the risks?
Also a great reason to have organisations such as Choice to continue and improve.
My preference is to let the weeds grow a little taller where possible so that I don’t need to bend so far. For the rest I’ll be rechecking the advice on the herbicides in use. Sump oil is not one of them.