Your guide to sustainable horsekeeping

The Green Horse section provides practical information on managing environmentally sustainable horse properties, readers stories and tips, as well as advice and articles from equestrian experts in their fields.

December January 2018/19
Vol 40 No 4

In this issue of The Green Horse you will find the following articles:

CELERY; Provides more than crunch to a horse's diet

PRODUCT NEWS -
Jumbo Bucket of Baits

THE GLYPHOSATE DEBATE
by Mark Brown-Envirapest

YOUR PLACE -
property profile of Royal Meadows, Macclesfield, Victoria - by Wendy Elks

FEED SHORTAGE AND DROUGHT
Can horse owners actually prepare for drought?
by Kaye Meynell


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It is always important to form your own opinion and do your own research before you expose yourself to, or decide to use, any type of chemical.

Over the past few months the glyphosate debate has again reared its head in the news and on Facebook. This debate has long been the topic of many dinner party conversations, political agendas and community discussion.

As a member of the pest and weed control industry this product is part and parcel of my job so I am always very interested in research and articles relating to the topic, as myself and my employees are exposed to pesticides and herbicides every day.

It is always important to form your own opinion and do your own research before you expose yourself to, or decide to use, any type of chemical. Everyone has ‘opinions’ and many are not shy in expressing them, whether they are based on fact or not.

As everyone knows, a lot of the Facebook posts you read should be taken with a pinch of salt and you really should do your own research before forming an opinion and sharing it.

This article is not about opinions – yours or mine – it is more about presenting some facts and telling you where to find research information on the subject.

So – what exactly is Glyphosate?

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that works by inhibiting an enzyme found in plants. There are around 500 products containing glyphosate registered for use in Australia. Glyphosate has been registered for use for over 40 years.
This explanation has been taken directly from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) – these are the guys who maintain ALL of the chemicals, pharmaceuticals and veterinary medicines thorough Australia.

They are a government organisation put in place to keep us all safe. There is no conspiracy, they don’t work for big corporations, they work for all of us Australians. They decide if something is dangerous and how it should be labelled. In fact, they have a huge amount of information on their site – which addresses a lot of the fears around glyphosate that the media are highlighting.

You can check it out for yourself here – http://apvma.gov.au/node/13891

Keeping things in perspective


Whenever we hear the word ‘chemical’ it tends to conjure up images of 44 gallon drums with a skull and crossbones on the side. The fact is, a chemical is basically a compound or substance that has been artificially prepared. Believe it or not – that soap you are washing your hands with out of the pretty dispenser is a chemical. You wash your clothes in chemicals, you clean your floors with chemicals – even essential oils don’t fall into the cute little containers you bought them in without being artificially prepared. Most of us even squirt chemicals into our horses’ mouths to kill worms on an eight-weekly basis.

Labels and what you need to know

When the APVMA decide which label to put on a chemical they take into account a lot of factors. The heading on that label will indicate the hazard level of the product and alert you to the safety directions before you even open the container. The signal heading will always sit at the top of the bottle and be written in capital letters. It is about letting you know what safety precautions you should take – not that you shouldn’t use the product. Chemicals and medications are scheduled but the main two that households would be in contact with are Schedule 5 & 6’s (outlined below).

Caution (Schedule 5)
– this is probably the most common label you will see. This is where glyphosate sits. While writing this article I did a quick lap around the house to see what else has a Caution label.
You might be surprised to see that Napisan (which we wash our clothes with) and my ‘Earth Choice’ dishwashing liquid and ‘Finish’ dishwasher tablets have the same label as Glyphosate.
These are the ‘chemicals’ we all wash our dishes with, and then we eat food off those dishes. Go and see for yourself.

Poison (Schedule 6) – this is reserved for products that are higher in hazard. I did find one in the cupboard – my ‘Easy-Off Oven Cleaner’. So technically I am at a higher risk when I use this oven cleaner than I am when I mix up my tank with glyphosate (or even the product we use to put down termite barriers!). Who would have thought? Something to think about, anyway.

In 2015 the International Agency for Research On Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate in a group that is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’. Now before you start panicking the IARC also classify alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen (carcogenic to humans) and we literally drink this – some of us on a daily basis. Engine exhaust, tobacco and processed meats are in the same category. So it is all about keeping things in perspective.

The reason we need to highlight this issue is because without products like glyphosate and other herbicides we wouldn’t have the food we do in Australia and around the world. These products are used safely every day and they have their place when used safely and, according to the label, are no different from other products you have around the home.

So, go out and do your own research – and always follow the label and safety precautions for all products.

And, if you still aren’t comfortable using it - DON’T. Get on those garden gloves and pull out those weeds, there is nothing wrong with a bit of elbow grease.

 

 


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