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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in tabloid journalism (1)


Beware of Gardening Tabloid Headlines!

I have just read a controversial article posted to the online news source Huffington Post, an organization that is often prone to creating emotion-stirring, undeserving headlines out of un-newsworthy occurrences. The title of the article  reads:- Roundup: Birth Defects Caused by World's Top Selling Weedkiller, Scientists Say".

Disconcertingly, upon closer examination of the entire article, a reader can confirm the inciting nature of the headline. It is worrisome that too many will digest it as an indisputable fact about Roundup when that product still remains under scientific scrutiny.

To the extent that the Huffington Post headline reflects the opinion of one group of scientists, the news article is accurate. However, since that opinion has not yet been corroborated by other scientists who follow more stringent research protocol, that article is not truthful. In fact, it will only stir up the emotions of dedicated and respected environmentalists that have already come to the as-yet scientifically uncorroborated conclusion that glysophates, even if properly administered, are toxic to living things.

By reading the entire article, one learns that the scientists’ statement reflects the finding of a flawed study. Respected organizations that monitor the possible toxic effects on humans of suspected substances report that an unflawed and proper investigation of such an allegation is problematic because testing for toxicity on humans is risky. Nevertheless, their opinion on this matter still requires further research - research based on accepted, rigorous scientific protocol. Surprisingly, that organization will not issue a definitive statement on the subject for another four years!!!

As responsible gardeners, we are constantly on the lookout for safe ways to clear aggressive, unwelcome vegetation from our gardens and farms. Unfortunately, many of the healthier alternatives are not efficient. Time and speed are important attributes of any herbicidal action because both gardeners and farmers, especially those living in colder climate, are in a perpetual race with nature to clear, plant, and harvest within a restricted time frame.

Those of us who grow decorative plants or food understand that anything that can kill vegetation probably will kill other living matter as well, and that includes humans. Up until now, that has been our unscientific gut feeling. We also recognize that it is doubtful there can ever be such a thing as an efficient and safe - for - living - things herbicide. However, since we are unable to stop gardening for pleasure and we must grow nourishment in the most efficient manner possible, rightly or wrongly, we are destined, for the time being, to tempt fate by continuing to use herbicides.

Imagine the upheaval that will occur in the gardening and agricultural industries if the scientific protocol-respecting research reveals that glysophates are indeed harmful to all living things, no matter how carefully they are used. What will we do then? It is also very worrisome that scientific bodies are only beginning to publicly tackle the subject of glysophate's toxicity now that Monsanto's patent for this product has recently expired. What does that tell us about a respected, international community of scientists who are forced to depend upon big business to sponsor their research?

Read the entire Huffington Post article here.