Here at Japanese Knotweed Solutions we are constantly reviewing technical data and checking that everything we do is as environmentally friendly as it can be. I am a keen fly fisherman and a keen environmental campaigner so I would be horrified to think that anything we were doing was harmful to our delicate ecosystems.
In light of this I have been reading some less than glowing feedback on Roundup. For years we have been told that Roundup is a relatively benign herbicide that becomes inert on contact with the soil. Thorough Public Relations by the developer of Roundup, Monsanto has resulted in the widespread belief that Glyphosate is ‘safe’. I have been known to say the same thing myself having listened to the sales patter…
Well - independent scientific studies (Dr Meriel Watts: Pesticide Action Network) are beginning to show some slightly different data.
Symptoms of poisoning commonly reported from unintentional exposure include; vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal infections, itchy or burning skin, skin rashes and infections, blisters, burning or weeping eyes, blurred vision, conjunctivitis, headaches, fever, rapid heartbeat, palpitations, raised blood pressure, dizziness, chest pains, numbness, insomnia, depression, dry cough, sore throat and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
To be honest these are fairly obvious signs of poisoning and can mainly be attributed to inexperienced operatives using chemicals without training.
I am more concerned with what I read about more subtle environmental effects of glyphosate. Glyphosate is water soluble and is increasingly found in the environment at levels that have caused significant disruption of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Glyphosate and/or Roundup can alter the composition of natural aquatic communities potentially tipping the ecological balance and giving rise to harmful algal blooms.
Glyphosate is also toxic to some (but not all) soil micro-organisms, altering microbial community dynamics in ways that are harmful to plants and to the ecological balance.
Earthworms are also adversely affected by Glyphosate as well as a number of the beneficial insects useful in biological control. The Psyllid aphid released to reduce the impacts of Japanese Knotweed is known to avoid plants that have been treated with Glyphosate.
We are also reading reports that against all previous advice - Glyphosate can be persistent in soil, with residues being found some three years later. Glyphosate binds to soil particles and was thought to be biologically inactive. It is now known that it can become ‘unbound’ taken up by plants or can leach out of the soil indicating a greater risk of groundwater contamination.
Now I’m NOT suggesting that we stop using Roundup/Glyphosate - my argument has always been that Invasive Weeds such as Japanese Knotweed require some aggressive tactics to reduce the impact they have on our environment. It’s no use pussy-footing around aggressive alien species; you have to hit back and hit hard.
What I am saying is let’s see some more detailed research on what these chemicals are doing to our ecosystems - and let’s make sure that anyone using these chemicals has the necessary experience and skills to use them properly.