'Safe' chemical branded a threat to farmers and consumers
A VISITING agricultural academic has told Gympie farmers the widely used herbicide, glyphosate, is a threat to the health of farmers, gardeners, weed control workers and almost anyone who eats.
Prof Don Huber, of the Purdue agricultural research university in Indiana spoke to vegetable growers at Mothar Mountain at the weekend and yesterday said the chemical is not as safe or quickly biodegradable as is often thought and persists in all our bodies.
"It has a half life of 20 years and is found in our brains, our digestive systems, hormone systems and our muscles,” he said.
A plant pathology and plant nutrition specialist, he is Professor of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Purdue University, which claims a history dating back to a land grant scheme put in place by Abraham Lincoln in 1862.
Explaining his Australian speaking tour and explained: "Whenever I get an invitation to Australia, I'm not going to turn it down.”
He said there was growing concern in the USA about dangers from the commonly used herbicide, which he said inhibits essential gut bacteria needed to produce amino acids not found in our food.
He referred to a website, "The Monsanto Papers” which claims to detail email correspondence between the manufacturer, Monsanto, and claimed independent researchers and regulators.
So is organic farming the answer?
"Not so much organic but it has to be gylphosate free,” he said.
"It is used not only in farming of almost all kinds, but by government authorities to maintain walkways in parks and in school grounds,” he said.
He claimed the chemical has a powerful anti-bacterial effect on beneficial organisms in the human gastrointestinal tract.
"I am concerned at changes in crop diseases that shouldn't be occurring if the information we are getting from the companies is completely accurate,” he said.
He says connections between business and the funding of much university and other research creates a potential for bias.
"We give lip service to the independence of our universities, but you find that they're (subject to being) defunded and don't always have the objectivity they should have,” he said.
It is a very persistent chemical in Australian soils with a half life of 20 years and affects soil bacteria needed for fertility, he said.