RoundUp has been in the news quite a lot lately – and the news is alarming. RoundUp has been declared a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organisation (WHO). (news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150422-glyphosate-roundup-herbicide-weeds/) Retail stores across Europe are taking glyphosate – the main ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup – off their shelves, despite government officials declaring it safe to use. (news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150422-glyphosate-roundup-herbicide-weeds/) France has banned the non-commercial use of RoundUp, and Brazil is following suit.
The effect of RoundUp on honey bees is not yet clear. One study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that honeybee navigation is affected by ingesting traces of the most widely used herbicide worldwide, with potential long-term negative consequences for colony foraging success. Another study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology found that glyphosate had relatively low toxicity for honey bees, but this study only tested by spraying bees and noting if they survived – they did not look at the effects on the colony as a superorganism.
It is clear that RoundUp, and other household pesticides and herbicides, are widely overused. It’s time to come up with a gentler approach to controlling weeds.
The Jackson County Master Gardeners have published a recipe for a weedkiller that is totally safe and works as well as RoundUp. The recipe is based on information on using vinegar (acetic acid) as an alternative to RoundUp published by the University of Maryland. The article lists some commercially available products that have acetic acid as their main ingredient, BUT only one is listed for homeowner use by the Oregon Department of Agriculture in their Fact Sheet for Vinegar/Acetic Acid Recommendations
Burn-out – 25% acetic acid (St. Gabriel Laboratories). 1 gal $39.95; 2.5 gal conc $99.99
Two other products are recommended in the Oregon fact sheet: Nature’s Glory Weed and Grass Killer RTU, and Greenergy’s Blackberry and Brush Block).
The Jackson County Master Gardeners have published a recipe for making your own vinegar based alternative to RoundUp:
- 1 gallon 10 per cent vinegar
- 1 cup of salt
- 2 tsp Dawn dish soap or vegetable oil (to make it adhere to the plant)