Costco pulled Roundup from its shelves this year as a reaction to a California's jury decision to award a man $80 million in his claim that Roundup was the cause or factor in his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
My reaction is science is under attack and farmers feel it. Agriculture feels it. Scientists and science and research-based companies certainly experience it firsthand.
But now it's reached your everyday basic gardeners.
I can't buy Roundup at Costco? As an agriculturist, I say that's silly and thankfully I can shop elsewhere. But those not connected to science and reading headlines who are scared to use herbicides now? I don't have any solution for them other than one thing: get out your hoe.
I know I am not alone in my thinking. A well-respected agronomist, Karen Corrigan of McGillicuddy Corrigan Agronomics, posted recently on Facebook sharing a picture of weed killers Costco has stocked on its shelves instead of Roundup. Corrigan wrote, "If you are concerned about Roundup's toxicity - these are NOT safer for you. FYI from the person who has a graduate degree in Weed Science and gives herbicide recommendations to farmers in 9 states- Roundup was the safest herbicide on the market. Roundup's biggest flaw was that it was developed by Monsanto. I've had my own distaste for some of the shenanigans of the manufacturer but that doesn't change the safeness of Roundup. The jury awards were not scientific evidence. If you are sincerely concerned about Herbicides then use a hoe."
I hate to hoe. I want the choice to use herbicides.
I grew up in the Red River Valley of the North in the 1980s and in the early 1990s, before glyphosate (the main ingredient of Roundup) resistant crops. I remember manual labor and the fields being filled with workers, hoeing fields. This summer, drive through the Red River Valley and you won't see fields filled with workers hoeing fields.
Biotech and herbicides like glyphosate, 2,4-D, Liberty, dicamba, Imazapic and others have decreased labor in fields, along with a host of other advantages, such as less water usage and less compaction of soil with fewer passes on fields. I am not an expert but see firsthand the positives that choices in agriculture can deliver.
There are still people doing hoeing and manual labor in fields across America and the globe. It's a part of agriculture. Crop protection and biotech choices are great for farmers to have. Farmers know if you want a crop and harvest, if you want your livelihood to continue, you have to have weed management. Even lowly gardeners like me know I need choices in how I grow and manage my plants and weeds.
That's where we have a problem.
I want the choice to buy Roundup or glyphosate for my garden. I want farmers to have the choice to plant any of the 10 GMO seeds/crops available for commercial production that include corn, soybeans, alfalfa, sugar beets, canola, squash, zucchini, papaya, potato, and apple, to farm non-GMO crops or farm organically. I also want traditional plant breeding to continue and bring forth more choices because I love seedless watermelon and even those expensive grapes that taste like cotton candy.
I want innovation, not only for agriculture but for technology to advance many aspects of my life, including medicine. I want cures for cancer and numerous other diseases. Don't we all? Are we selfish hypocrites if we have the technology, research, and science to advance medicine but do not want it to advance agriculture, to grow more food and food choices for all?
Right now, all farmers have the freedom and choices to grow what they want and decide what works best for them on their farm, just like I do in my little raised bed garden. Farmers have the choice to utilize innovation and biotech, or not. I want that choice and freedom to continue.
Farmers feed you and me, not my little garden. I don't want to go back to the way it used to be and live in the sod house like my ancestors did and work to grow just enough food to feed my family and have a little extra to sell.
If you want to, you get to. But I like grocery stores and the suppliers who get food choices onto the shelves. I love farmers. I also care about people, far from my rural home, who don't have access to my first-world choices of food. Farmers grow food for them, too. And innovation can bring more options to have people far from me in this world to not only eat but to grow their own seeds and farm.
I want choices in how I grow food in my garden and how farmers do too. I prefer herbicides over a hoe.