In agriculture and farming, harvest and crop quality depends on many factors. These are soil quality, weed control, pest control, fertilizer, and of course, weather.
One of the common problems in agriculture is weed control. Wherein, weeds tend to compete with crops in getting soil nutrients and fertilizer. This may often result in poor crop quality and worse, small harvest for a certain period.
However, a breakthrough in biotechnology and its application in the agriculture may put a permanent answer to this problem such as Glyphosate. It can help farmers to yield crops that are weed resilient, rich in nutrients, totally safe for human consumption, and environment-friendly.
Glyphosate is a weed killer which works on a wide variety of leafy weeds. It doesn’t distinguish one from another, and it works best after the seed has sprouted. Use and distribution of Glyphosate are approved in over 160 countries and proven to be not carcinogenic or does not cause cancer to human.
It was subjected to 40 years of over 800 studies. Tests which included an extensive ecotoxicology testing with a wide range of fauna and flora. It was also proven to be low-volatility, binds tightly to soil, is biodegraded over time and does not bioaccumulate and has a very low toxicity to aquatic animals.
Glyphosate inhibits an enzyme (EPSPS) essential to plant growth. This enzyme is not found in humans or other animals, contributing to the low risk to human health.
Furthermore, WHO Core Assessment Group, the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, and the International Programme on Chemical Safety have all on record said that Glyphosate does not present cancer or human health risk.
In addition to that, these findings are also supported by renowned authorities worldwide such as the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), European Chemical Agency (ECHA) Committee for Risk Assessment, Korean Rural Development Administration (RDA), New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency (NZ EPA), Japan Food Safety Commission (FSC), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA); with a unanimous conclusion from 2016 and 2017 studies that Glyphosate is safe to humans, animal, and the environment.
In the Philippines, the first glyphosate product called Roundup 48SL was available since 1980. It is credited for weed control especially in glyphosate-tolerant hybrid corn. Glyphosate is widely used in the Philippine agriculture such as in corn, followed by non-crop use, rubber, bananas, tropical fruit, sugar cane and rice.
Then in 2014, data shows that about 2.52 million kg acid equivalent of glyphosate was available. It is used on such major crops as corn (47%), banana/pineapple plantation (16%), fruits/vegetables (14%) and other non-food/industrial crops (23%).
However, restriction in the usage of Glyphosate in agriculture often result to poor land preparation for sowing/planting of crops, increase in land preparation costs, lower crop yields because of poor weed control, increased use of tillage, other herbicides (paraquat and atrazine), and more use of manual weeding and additional slashing/burning.
This just shows the efficiency and advantages of Glyphosate as a safe alternative and cost-effective tool for weed management that will surely benefit the Philippine agriculture industry and the world for a more sustained crop yields and nutrient-rich harvests. (Tuklasin Natin/Ehlorra Mangahas)