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Harmful effects of the herbicide glyphosate

Jun 29, 2022

All existence is begotten by Thy bounty; deprive it not of the waters of Thy generosity, neither do Thou withhold it from the ocean of Thy mercy.

From a prayer by Bahá’u’lláh

by Christine Muller

Glyphosate is the most heavily sprayed herbicide in the world, even though it is banned or restricted in several countries, but not in the US. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup, a widely used herbicide used in agriculture and by homeowners in their yards.

Glyphosate is massively sprayed in fields of corn and soybeans which are genetically engineered to withstand the poison. While there is no scientific evidence that genetic engineering of food crops by itself is harmful, it allows the application of increasingly large dosages of toxic chemicals. Of course, glyphosate is also sprayed on many non-GMO crops. In addition, wheat, barley, oats, and beans often contain significant amounts of glyphosate because the chemical is also used to dry out the crops to speed up the harvesting time.

Glyphosate is extremely harmful to human health and the environment, and it is present in soil, air, water, even groundwater, and food. The chemical is linked to cancer, to the disruption of the endocrine system and to birth defects. It also has a very harmful effect on the “diversity and composition of microbial communities, including the human gut microbiome.”(1) In addition, glyphosate inhibits “the acquisition of micronutrients”.(2) 

The impact of glyphosate on the environment is catastrophic. As designed, it kills indiscriminately and is a major culprit in the catastrophic loss of biodiversity. For example, it is the main factor in the collapse of the Monarch butterfly population because it has been killing the milkweed, the only plant its caterpillars can eat.

So, what can we do? First of all, do not use glyphosate (Roundup and most other weed killers) around your house or on Bahá’í property! Second, buy organically grown food. In this way, you support farmers that apply responsible farming practices, and you will lower your family’s risk of serious diseases such as cancer.

References

(1) Classification of the glyphosate target enzyme (5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase) for assessing sensitivity of organisms to the herbicide, Lyydia Leino et al., Elsevier 15 April 2021

(2) Glyphosate: Its Environmental Persistence and Impact on Crop Health and Nutrition, Ramdas Kanissery et al., PubMed Central Nov. 2019

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Christine Muller, Piano Teacher

Board Secretary, International Environment Forum

I was interested in environmental issues already at a young age and became a Bahá’í when I was 17, which was the beginning of a life-long study of the Bahá’í Faith. As the environmental crisis was worsening, I began to systematically study climate change at a time when not much information was easily available. I also searched the Bahá’í teachings for a spiritual solution to the climate crisis. At that time, climate change was not known to most people and there were no educational materials available. That’s why I wrote Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change – an Interfaith Study Course, which the International Environment Forum posted in 2009. I joined the Wilmette Institute as support faculty for its Sustainable Development course in 2011 and created its Climate Change course the following year. I served on the board of RI Interfaith Power&Light for nine years and currently serve on the board of the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum (iefworld.org). My academic background is in music and I enjoy part-time piano teaching and playing music. I would have done more in the area of music were it not for the urgency of climate action, but my musical training has helped me to better understand the complexity of the climate crisis. Christine’s articles on BahaiTeachings.orgSee Faculty Bio

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