A recent Reuters report claims that heavy use of the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup can cause damaging changes to soils as well as compromising yields of GM crops which US farmers are cultivating. Repeated use of glyphosate damages plant root structure and research indicates that the chemical could also cause fungal root disease, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
According to the Reuters report, Roundup is the world's best-selling herbicide and its use has increased as Monsanto, the world's biggest seed company, continues to roll out herbicide-tolerant "Roundup Ready" crops. Roundup Ready corn, soybeans and other crops are beloved by farmers because farmers can spray the herbicide directly onto their crops to kill surrounding weeds, and Roundup Ready corn and soybeans varieties make up the vast majority of those crops grown in the United States.
In addition, website Motherjones.com quotes Iowa-based agronomy consultant Dr Michael McNeill, who claims that "farmers' increased use of Roundup is actually harming their crops because it is killing micronutrients in the soil that they need, a development that has been documented in several scientific papers by the nation's leading experts in the field. For example, harmful fungi and parasites like fusarium, phytopthora and pythium are on the rise as a result of the poison, while beneficial fungi and other organisms that help plants reduce minerals to a usable state are on the decline. The overuse of glyphosate means that oxidizing agents are on the rise, creating oxides that plants can't use, leading to lower yields and higher susceptibility to disease."
Monsanto has said in the past that glyphosate binds tightly to most types of soil, is not harmful and does not harm the crops. The company has said that its research shows glyphosate is safe for humans and the environment.