The other day, I posted a link on Facebook about "why wheat is toxic." The article talked about how "Wheat harvest protocol in the United States is to drench the wheat fields with Roundup several days before the combine harvesters work through the fields as withered, dead wheat plants are less taxing on the farm equipment and allows for an earlier, easier and bigger harvest." It was alarmist in nature, but it got me thinking.
So I started to dig. I'm just getting into this now, but it looks like it's a real thing, and it's been happening since 1980. It's called pre-harvest crop desiccation. It's when the farmer sprays herbicide on his crop 7-14 days prior to harvest to a) kill weeds, and b) speed up the natural plant drydown process, allowing crops to be harvested quicker, easier and earlier while at the same time maximizing both crop yield and quality. In Saskatchewan, only Reglone by Syngenta is registered for the explicit purpose of desiccating crops, but elsewhere (and I mean all over the world, not just North America), the chemical called glyphosphate (aka Roundup) is widely used for the same purpose. According to Monsanto, "pre-harvest use of glyphosphate started in 1980 and revolutionized perennial weed control." Fortunately for the consumer, glyphosphate is "environmentally benign" and "safe for humans... so long as it is applied carefully."
Whatever that means.
Look, I realize farmers are under tremendous pressure to produce crops that are profitable, and with chemical companies telling them their herbicides are safe for human ingestion, why wouldn't they use them? There are countries out there that are banning the practice of pre-harvest desiccation based on the "precautionary principle." But such bans are criticized by the Glyphosphate Task Force (I'm not making this up) as being "disproportionate and scientifically undifferentiated", unnecessarily restricting agriculture in the countries where they are in effect.
So it seems that unless the law of the land actually prevents farmers from doing this kind of thing, we as consumers are pretty much unprotected. I don't know about you, but I'm leery of agenda-driven "science" that tells me it's safe to consume something that is designed to kill other things.
So what can we do to protect ourselves? I don't know the answer to that question, but buying organic is probably a good place to start. "Organic" is big business now, so it's probably prudent to find out what "organic" really means, and make sure Monsanto hasn't weaseled its way into the organic farmer's field. Yes, it costs more to buy quality, but come on - what is your health worth to you?
Food for thought. Pun intended.
Here are some references. Bon appetit. Pun intended. Again.