Safe Alternatives to Roundup and Other Glyphosate-based Weed Killers
Many individuals who used the weed killer Roundup heavily are just now becoming aware of the potential dangers of the product and its primary ingredient, glyphosate, that was classified as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization, and has been linked to a number of serious and deadly like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
First sold by Monsanto in 1974 under the name Roundup, glyphosate kills weeds by blocking enzymes that are essential to plant growth. There are now over 750 glyphosate-based products on the market in the United States in both solid and liquid form including DowDuPont’s Rodeo, RM43 Total Vegetation Control and Ranger Pro Herbicide, and Ortho GroundClear (in addition to Roundup).
So how can homeowners, landscaping professionals, and farmers continue protecting their crops and vegetation from weeds without using Roundup or other glyphosate products? Fortunately, there are a number of safe alternatives to Roundup that can be found at your local stores or online. So whether you’re looking to replace Roundup or are wanting to move toward a more organic, sustainable style of gardening, let’s look at some glyphosate alternatives and how you can effectively use them.
Why Use Alternatives to Roundup
Roundup has been the most widely-used weedkiller in the United States for decades. From homeowners and gardeners to commercial farmers, Roundup has touched almost every crop grown in the United States including corn, cotton, and soybeans. And while Bayer, who bought Roundup maker Monsanto in 2018, claims on its website that “the weed killer has been thoroughly tested, and an extensive body of research shows that products containing it can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic,” that hasn’t stopped judges and juries from awarding victims now suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers tens of millions of dollars in damages over the last year.
With an estimated 180 to 185 million pounds of Roundup products applied every year, traces of glyphosate have been found in breast milk, beer, wine, eggs, and a number of other products (including products made with supposedly organic materials). Along with harmful effects to the human body, Roundup is also detrimental to the environment with a significant amount of glyphosate found in rivers and streams in 38 states across the country.
Believe it or not, glyphosate is also responsible for genetically modified (GMO) crops. After Roundup was discovered in 1970 by a Monsanto chemist, farmers quickly adopted it and starting spraying it on crops. There was one problem, killing weeds also resulted in killing crops. That’s when Monsanto had its chemists create glyphosate-resistant crops by altering the crops’ DNA. Today, some experts believe GMO food consumption could cause serious health risks for animals and humans alike.
Alternatives to Roundup
For home gardeners there are a number of alternatives to Roundup to ensure your yard and garden stay healthy and weed free all year long. Because these alternatives aren’t pesticides made with strong and toxic chemicals, you may have to use them along with other standard yard maintenance tactics. Experienced gardeners and landscape professionals are more than likely already doing this, but for novices this means improving soil health, constant monitoring, and fertilizing. In many cases the safest and most effective way to tackle weeds in your yard is by digging them out with a trowel.
Most alternative herbicides fall into the following categories: natural acids (vinegar and citric), iron-based herbicides, salt-based herbicides, corn gluten, herbicidal soaps, and phytotoxic oils (Essential oils like pine and peppermint). Many people combine herbicides from different categories for maximum effect. It’s important to remember that alternative herbicides aren’t systemic, meaning they won’t stop future weeds from popping up. Because of that you may have to apply them throughout the year when you see weeds sprouting.
How to Use Alternative Pesticides
What alternative pesticides lack in strength and effectiveness they make up for in giving you and your family peace of mind. Here are a few of the most common alternative pesticides and how to use them best.
- Organic weed killers – Speciality stores will carry organic weed killers made with safe, non-harmful ingredients like citrus oil and lemon juice.
- Flamethrowers – These are also known as flame weeders and are becoming increasingly popular among gardeners ditching Roundup and other pesticides. These are especially effective in treating weeds in gravel areas or in the cracks of your sidewalks and driveway. Just remember to never use flame weeders near dry grass or brush or any type of fuel.
- Acetic acid (vinegar) – We’re not talking about your typical household vinegars like white or balsamic. To effectively treat weeds you need industrial or horticultural vinegar with an acetic content of 20 to 30 percent. Acetic acid will target the cell membranes of plant causing the foliage tissue to rapidly breakdown. Add a few drops of liquid soap to help the vinegar adhere to leaves, but remember to wear goggles and gloves to keep the vinegar from burning your skin or eyes.
- Essential oils – Peppermint, citronella, pine, and other essential oils are an effective and easily-available alternative to glyphosate-based weed killers. Mix them with water and spray the affected areas. Warning for pet owners, essential oils can be toxic to cats and dogs so make sure to do some research beforehand or use another treatment.
- Corn gluten – This dry powder is a byproduct of corn starch processing is safe for both the environment and people. Corn gluten has to be used with other treatment methods because while it slows the growth of new weeds it isn’t very effective treating weeds already rooted in the ground.
Experts say alternative herbicides are most effective on hot and humid days after the morning dew has burned off. This ensures the treatment adheres to the plant for a long period of time. For larger and perennial weeds, you may have to apply the alternative pesticide multiple times to effectively control and kill them.
When applying alternative weed killers, be careful not to apply it to plants you want to keep alive. But for weeds in walkways, driveways, and other areas you don’t want any vegetation to ever grow again, there is another secret ingredient: salt. Simply mix two cups of salt in one gallon of white vinegar (make sure to mix this in a container larger than one gallon because you need room for the salt). After adding the salt, put a lid on the container and shake the mixture until the salt dissolves. Finally, add 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap such as Dawn and pour the mixture into a garden sprayer.
Adding salt to this mixture will eventually eliminate all vegetation from ever growing again so again make sure not to apply it to areas you want to keep grass or plants. As the salt continues to penetrate the soil it will eventually sterilize it, ensuring nothing will ever grow there again.
Alternative herbicides do not treat every type of weed but studies have found that they are effective in killing and controlling the following:
- Common Chickweed
- Ground Ivy
- Broadleaf Plantain
- Lambs Quarters
- Spiny Amaranth
Contact a Roundup Attorney
Whether you are a commercial farmer, professional landscaper, or home gardener, finding out that a product you’ve used could potentially cause serious and fatal diseases like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers can be devastating. If you are currently using Roundup in your home or business, we highly recommend that you stop immediately and begin using any of the above alternative pesticides for treating weeds.
For some the damage may already be done. If you have suffered an illness and believe it was a result of Roundup, contact the The Driscoll Firm, P.C. today and speak with one of our experienced and qualified legal representatives about becoming part of a class action lawsuit against Monsanto. We’ll fight for you during this time to ensure you get the money you deserve to pay for medical bills and other expenses. Call us today at 800-900-7704 and take the first step in protecting your future.