Sifting Through the Soil of Truth: Exploring the Hidden Costs of Herbicides on Health and Nature

In today’s world of rapidly advancing science and technology, food is suffering. The chemical companies that produce and sell the toxic sprays and chemicals used to protect our food are making millions of dollars in profits, while our health is costing us millions of dollars and more, suffering as a result. Contrary to popular belief, living longer does not equate to living better entirely; the consequences of illnesses in our later years, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, in no small part, can be traced back to the chemically laden and genetically modified foods we consume.

Herbicides and pesticides have long been associated with the dangers of sprayed fruits and vegetables—one of the world’s most widely used herbicides, Roundup, is linked to diseases like Parkinson’s and cancer, as well as infertility. Residues of glyphosate, the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, sprayed over millions of acres of crops worldwide, has been found in the food we eat. According to a peer-reviewed report published in the journal Entropy, glyphosate might be “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.”

Glyphosate’s Role in Disease

The researchers elaborate on glyphosate’s negative effects on the human body, which insidiously manifest slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. For example, glyphosate interferes with Cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, crucial enzymes responsible for detoxifying xenobiotics. In other words, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Furthermore, glyphosate works in conjunction with other environmental toxins to contribute to a long list of potential medical afflictions, including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, depression, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cachexia, infertility, and developmental malformations.

Disappearance of Honeybees and Damaging Pesticides

Another pressing environmental news story is the disappearance of honeybees. This is a cause for great concern as insects like bees are vital for the pollination of plants, including fruits and vegetables. Researchers and beekeepers alike attribute bees’ deaths and disappearing numbers to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), linked to the poisonous toxins in the chemicals sprayed on crops. Three separate studies have recently been performed on this issue, two of which have been published in the journal Science, connecting the widespread use of neonicotinoids (specific types of pesticides) to CCD.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must reconsider its stance on Bayer’s neonicotinoids, which it previously approved for use. When plants and vegetable seeds are treated with neonicotinoids, the plant’s vascular system absorbs the pesticide, which is then expressed in the pollen and nectar that bees consume. The chemical subsequently attacks the bee’s nervous system.

Demands for More Research

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a report that withholds final judgment on neonicotinoids, calling for more research to be done, the European Union has prioritized its citizens’ health and announced a two-year ban on neonicotinoids. During this ban, the European Union will be collecting more data and information on the health implications of neonicotinoids.

Alternative Pesticide Solution

In the meantime, an interesting alternative pesticide has emerged: soft drinks. Farmers in India have begun spraying cola-flavored soft drinks on their cotton and chili fields instead of conventional pesticides. As a result, the pests started dying. Soft drinks have long been known to be an effective treatment for pests, as sugary solutions can attract red ants that feed on insect larvae.

Although soft drinks like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are safer to handle than pesticides, this solution is not entirely ideal for human consumption. While soft drinks are much cheaper than pesticides produced by corporations like Monsanto and Dow, these sugary beverages should thankfully not be on our tables as a staple food item or drink—however, they should be kept in business for their pesticide purpose.

The future of the pesticide industry might look very different in twenty years or so, with the possibility and potential of cola drinks replacing chemical pesticides worldwide for agricultural use. For now, as the USDA and EPA grapple with striking a balance between business as usual and the necessity to protect human health, the best course of action for the public is to consume organic food and refrain from drinking soda beverages. Basic yet wise choices like these will not only protect individuals’ health but also contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly global food industry.