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Thanks to a ruling on Monday in a San Francisco courtroom, Monsanto, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, is now under fire for its widely used herbicide: Roundup.
Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old former groundskeeper, filed suit against Monsanto, claiming that he developed a terminal form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma from his exposure to Roundup. He says the company acted in malice and did not do enough to warn customers of the potential dangers of repeated exposure.
The jury ruled in favor of Johnson, and he was awarded $289 million dollars in damages. Now, the future of Monsanto remains up the air. Over 4,000 similar cases against the chemical giant are waiting to be heard.
Monsanto is expected to appeal the court's recent decision, and they will continue to “vigorously defend their product,” according to vice president Scott Partridge.
What's the big hold-up with Roundup?
Roundup has become an integral part of the agricultural production industry. Internationally, farmers rely on Roundup as a herbicide. But it's unclear whether or not glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) is carcinogenic. The EPA says it’s safe; however, an international cancer research institutes say it’s "probably" harmful to humans.
Contradictory research continues to cloud the judgement of farmers and industry leaders. Even after Monday's decision, the big question still remains: is glyphosate safe or is it not?
Is vinegar a viable alternative to Roundup? Let's break it down.
Vinegar is an acetic acid.
It works by chemically burning the plant until the leaves are gone. Vinegar can be diluted to be stronger or weaker; it just depends on the specific application, which a user could utilize for gardening or general cleaning. For example, Green Gobbler sells 10, 20 and 30 percent vinegar to best fit a specific task.
Vinegar doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals.
As you may know, vinegar is made from corn. It’s naturally acidic, so it’s power comes solely from Mother Nature. You won’t find phosphates, sulfates, VOCs, petroleum solvents, chlorine, fluorine, ethoxylates or dyes in vinegar. You especially won’t find glyphosate.
Vinegar has low toxicity.
It’s one of the most environmentally friendly pesticides. Vinegar won’t contaminate your lawn or enter any nearby lakes, creeks or waterways. It still packs a punch, however; most plants will begin to wilt in less than 24 hours.
Why hasn't it been adopted into mainstream use?
According to The University of Maryland, vinegar (acetic acid) has a few simple cons. Vinegar is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it kills or damages any plant that it touches, including grass. Also, it doesn’t carry itself into the roots like glyphosate.
Glyphosate is residual and sticks to a plant to ensure its demise. Right now, glyphosate is only slightly more desirable, especially for large-scale maintenance. But its popularity and reputation is quickly on the decline because of its link to cancer.
For independent farmers and gardeners, vinegar is without a doubt the better option. It's eco-friendly and doesn't contain anything close to a toxic chemical.
You can choose to kill weeds organically. The options are out there, and we invite you to explore them. Talk to other farmers and see if vinegar is a viable option for your crops.
At Green Gobbler, we think that if you can avoid using a potentially harmful chemical, it’s probably worth the trouble.