There are alternatives to glyphosate-based weed killers

Monsanto’s best selling and widely used weed killer Roundup was classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2015 as a probable human carcinogen. Last June, glyphosate, the active ingredient in most weed killers, was placed on the California list of potentially cancerous chemicals.

According to Moms Across America, glyphosate is so widely used in the U.S. that traces have been found in breast milk, beer, wine, eggs, oatmeal and other consumer products. Its use has been linked to infertility, immune problems and other health issues.

In July 2017 California was the first state in the U.S. to issue a warning on glyphosate by adding it to the Proposition 65 Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act list of chemical substances known to cause cancer. Seven cities in our state have restricted or banned use of herbicides in city parks or other public places such as schools and golf courses. Other cities in 17 states have also restricted its use. Twenty-eight countries around the world have or are in the process of limiting glyphosate use in public spaces per the law firm Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman.

So what are we to do to get rid of our weeds? There are alternatives to glyphosate-based herbicides. As a kid I got 5 cents a box for pulling weeds. That’s not a great option for large acreage, but for small garden areas hand pulling is probably best. Here are some other chemical alternatives, available on line or in stores.

▪ Acetic acid, better known as vinegar. Agricultural vinegar is 20 percent acetic acid. (Household vinegar is 3 percent to 5 percent) It’s available from Amazon.com for about $22 a gallon. Salt can be added to vinegar to make it more potent and adding citrus oil or soap helps the vinegar penetrate the leaves and keep it from running off.

▪ Avenger Weed Killer made from citrus oil available at Amazon, Home Depot, and Walmart for about $30-$45.

▪ BurnOut II made from clove oil, vinegar and lemon juice, available at Costco, Walmart, Amazon and True Value for about $25-$50.

These herbicide alternatives work best when they are applied on a hot day. Spray the mixture only on weeds you want to kill. Overspray can harm plants close by so use care in your flower garden. Wear gloves and protective eyewear to protect your hands from the concentrated solutions. Wear a mask if you have respiratory issues. Larger weeds may need several applications.

I used 20 percent vinegar with a dash of dish soap in a spray bottle on my driveway weeds. They died quickly and have not returned in the past two months. I am delighted with the results, and found this to be the cheapest choice.

These alternatives to glyphosate help keep toxins out of our soil and water. That provides a public health benefit for all of us. Let’s keep ourselves and our surroundings healthy.

Jana Hollenbeck of Coarsegold is a member of Keep Our Mountains Beautiful.

KOMB meeting

Keep Our Mountains Beautiful (KOMB) picks up litter throughout Eastern Madera County.

Meeting: Thursday, June 22, 6:30 p.m. at Round Table Pizza in Oakhurst. Everyone is welcome.

Details: komb4emc@gmail.com or Sandee Scott at 559-760-1058.