New reveals how widespread the use of herbicides – including glyphosate – has become on North American federal and tribal land. In 2010 alone, 200 tons of the stuff was sprayed on natural wildlands to help curb the growth of invasive plant species – however the toxins may have done more damage to native plants than the intrusive species would have done.
University of Montana researchers published their findings recently, having gathered data with the help of figures from Algoma University and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. They found that those 200 tons of herbicide were sprayed over 1.2 million acres of U.S. wildlands. Viktoria Wagner from UM explained, “Imagine: The wildland area sprayed by herbicides in that year is comparable to 930,630 football fields, and the amount of herbicides used equals the weight of 13 school buses.”
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Researchers suspect the numbers are actually higher, seeing as data were not able to be collected from the U.S. Forest Service lands. An unexpected finding from their research was the alarmingly high use of glyphosate, a notorious cancer-causing chemical. Wagner stated, “This finding was unexpected because glyphosate is a nonselective herbicide that harms grasses and herbs alike and thus has a higher potential to negatively affect desired native plants.” The low cost and few restrictions on usage may have played a part in its widespread use, however. The study calls for further analysis and monitoring of how helpful herbicides are in the fight against invasive plants in natural wild lands.
Images via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wikipedia