For many years I have been been advocating against the use of insecticides and herbicides – I have publicly stated the dangers of these products and written to our Municipality about the use of herbicides in our town. However, they are still using a product that kills: the only difference is that now the operators wear masks, goggles and gloves whereas in years gone by they were ‘unprotected’. If these products are so safe to use, why then are the users advised to take precautions to protect themselves? We are all subjected to poisonous fumes that are designed to kill vegetation, and destroy the habitat of many creatures. Every year tons of chemicals are used, and please don’t tell me it does nothing to our environment and our own health and well being.
It has come to light that the active ingredient Glyphosate inhibits cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, a large and diverse group of enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of organic substances. However, the inert ingredients may be more toxic than the active ingredients as until now, most health studies have focused on the safety of glyphosate, rather than the mixture of ingredients found in herbicides. But in the new study, scientists found that the inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.
One specific inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself – a finding the researchers call “astonishing.” Quite interesting that inert ingredients are not listed on the labels of some of the products!
We recently went to Baviaanskloof and on our return from Uniondale towards George on the N12, I noticed that the vegetation along the road was shrivelled and dead from the hard shoulder of the road right up to the fences bordering farmlands. I first put it down to the severe drought in the area: only when a tanker truck approached with an operator at the back spraying the roadsides did the penny drop. The wind was blowing quite hard and the mist of the spray was blowing towards apple orchards on the left side of the road and obviously over the road. The operator on the back of the truck had NO protective gear, let alone any pedestrians or passengers travelling along the road or any little creatures living in what is a natural corridor for wildlife!
We should be taking action to ensure the survival of insects, mammals, birds and plants that use these ‘corridors’. It is a known fact that wildlife frequent the roadsides on their travels in search for food and we also take great enjoyment from observing spring wildflowers along our roadsides where bees, butterflies and birds are flourishing. If this destruction carries on we will be left with dead zones along our roads, devoid of all life and beauty. Most farms, especially the large commercial farms are already more or less ecologically dead as the monoculture of grains etc offers very little to wildlife. Most of the crops are also genetically engineered – in other words they are totally unaffected by herbicides!
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Contributor: Esther Townsend