‘Dear Garden Doctor,
I have alot of weeds growing along my driveway and pavements, in the cracks and along the edges. I always pull them out but they seem to grow back even stronger than before. Friends have told me to spray with poison but I’d rather not considering I have small children and pets. Do you have any organic ideas for killing weeds? Thanks for advice, Antonio.’

In searching for an organic method to eradicate weeds you have done the right thing. Weed killer is known by many names, most commonly, herbicide, roundup, or glyphosate. By spraying this poison around the garden you risk harmful side effects to yourself, your children and pets, possibly even your neighbours considering wind can easily carry the off spray next door. Poison residue will stay in the soil for at least a few weeks, possibly longer, and you definitely don’t want your children and pets playing around in that, and you can’t quarantine them from the garden at the same time. Just read the safety instructions on the packet and you will see that it not a benign solution!

Scientific evidence has shown that glyphosate (the main ingredient in herbicide) can cause or accelerate cancer rates. Of course the manufacturers have released their official studies that will state that there are no long term effects on humans and animals. According to them it breaks down in the soil quickly and within a few weeks it’s gone. Of course they would say that, it’s in their best interest to do so, plus the scientists who conduct their studies are on their payroll. All too often governments do not work for the best interests of the people, rather working in the best interests of large corporations at the expense of the masses. But hey what’s new?

You don’t have to resort to using glyphosate, although touted as being safe and biodegradable it doesn’t have such a good reputation if you take the time to look into research from around the world. Just Google – Glyphosate and Cancer.

The phenomenon of genetically modified food has come about so that crops could be developed to resist glyphosate, meaning large tracts of agricultural land could be sprayed to kill all the weeds, without killing the crops. And of course there is no residue left in the soil or on the fruit and vegetables afterwards. Well that’s what they tell you, and do you believe them? It’s just an amazing coincidence that food these days is less nutritious and cancer rates are much higher than in the past, yet it has nothing to do with the food supply? Here is just a snippet of what I found from a quick search.

‘Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors.’ -Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Sep;59:129-36. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.05.057. Epub 2013 Jun 10.

‘Studies dating back to the 1980s have indicated that farmers in many countries appear to have higher rates for Hodgkin’s disease, leukaemia, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and cancers of the lip, stomach, prostate, skin, brain, and connectives tissue compared with the general population. The strongest links of cancers in agricultural workers are to herbicides.’ – Herbicides and cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 1992, 84, 1866-74.

‘The incidence of diseases and adverse conditions that have gone up in parallel with the increase in GM crops and the use of glyphosate herbicide since 1994 include thyroid cancer, liver cancer, hospitalizations for acute kidney injury, diabetes, and end stage renal disease. It is also a prime suspect in the rise of human male infertility worldwide’. Glyphosate has been banned in Sri Lanka based on the evidence of many studies. – Sri Lanka bans glyphosate for deadly kidney disease epidemic. Science in Society 62 (to appear) 2014.

A review on glyphosate toxicity written by Caroline Cox of Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, US, published in 1995 showed that most if not all the toxic effects of glyphosate had already been demonstrated in laboratory studies. But the public were kept in the dark through a web of deception, fraud, and half truths committed by testing companies working for the corporations.

….Need I say more?

Widely regarded as the father of modern medicine Hippocrates famously stated that ‘Food is medicine’. Well if your medicine is toxic, then what chance do you have to be healthy?

But the effects continue reaching far from the garden or farm where the initial spray takes place, residues will wash into ground water affecting streams, rivers, even oceans, and don’t forget the aquifers, that many rely on for their main water supply. The disastrous effects of indiscriminate waste disposal on waterways and the land in general around Bali are visible for all to see, but that doesn’t mean that we should simply add to the problem, or that the problem is too big to solve.

Using organic gardening or farming methods is a step in the right direction to stemming the flow of pollution and eventually cleaning up Bali. Too often people adopt the attitude ‘out of sight, out of mind’ the chemicals we add to the food chain and water cycle through the use of herbicides and pesticides are usually not visible to the naked eye because they are water soluble, presence is usually confirmed through a laboratory test. A murky brown or green stagnant waterway is visible evidence or a physical manifestation of the pollution problem, so often seen around Bali’s over developed south, and eventually it all ends up in the world’s oceans.

“I’ve never been so alarmed by pollution situation as this trip to Bali/Indo. We need solutions and multi-industry backing. If Bali doesn’t #DoSomething serious about this pollution it’ll be impossible to surf here in a few years. Worst I’ve ever seen…. Plastic, random rubbish, medical waste/needles on beach. Disgusting. Smelly water. Really sad.” – Kelly Slater via Twitter 2012. 11 times World Surfing Champion.

I could really go on all day about this, but it’s probably about time that I gave you some solutions, they are really quite simple and they won’t end up causing health and environmental problems.

The reason the weeds grow back so easily is because in pulling weeds from pavement cracks you will often not be able to pull the roots. Most weeds will easily regenerate form the root. For weeds growing in cracks in paved areas, simply boil your kettle and then pour the hot water slowly into the cracks at ground level, where weeds are growing from. The hot water will kill the root. Wait a few days and the weed tops will be withered and brown, then simply pull them out. Doing this once a week as maintenance should be all you need. Alternatively you can pour or spray undiluted vinegar into the cracks, but remember that vinegar is acidic so take care around concrete and only use household strength vinegar (6% acetic acid).

In reference to my earlier rant, I advise readers to Google – Glyphosate and Cancer. After reading through the evidence I can assure you that you won’t want to spray weed killer again, and you will probably also want to begin growing your own fruit and veggies immediately, or at least buy organic in future.

Dr. Kris
Garden Doctor
Copyright © 2015 Dr. Kris
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