Updated September 18, 2015 
For the original article posted on November 21, 2014, please scroll down. 

With ongoing questions and concerns surrounding glyphosate, the National Wheat Foundation(NWF) put together a five-part series of blog posts titled “The Truth About Glyphosate”, sharing the facts about glyphosate and its use in the wheat industry.

November 21, 2014

What is all of the talk about?

A recent blog post titled “The Real Reason why Wheat is Toxic (and it isnt gluten)” by the Healthy Home Economist has stirred a lot of conversations regarding glyphosate-treated wheat or better known as applying herbicides like Roundup to wheat prior to harvest. The article alarmingly claims that Roundup herbicides are commonly doused on wheat crops a few days before harvest, linking glyphosate residues to the recent surge in Celiac disease and claiming wheat is now toxic.

Claim Vs. Fact

Claim 1: Wheat crops are doused or drenched in Roundup herbicides a few days before harvest.

Fact: It is not routine for U.S. wheat producers to use Roundup, or other formulations of glyphosate, for pre-harvest applications. Most of the states in the wheat belt have drier climates, so getting additional help in maturing out the crop from a desiccant, like Roundup, isn’t necessary as much of the field will dry out and ripen on its own.

Although Roundup is labeled for pre-harvest applications, there is a standard pre-harvest interval (PHI) of at least seven to 14 days before harvest can take place, if the herbicide is applied to the wheat crop. Glyphosate, the active ingredient of Roundup, is used to control perennial weeds, although a very small percentage of producers also use it as a desiccant to evenly ripen a field of wheat for harvest.

Fact: Plants are not “doused” in Roundup or its active ingredient glyphosate. Relatively small amounts of glyphosate are applied as weeds emerge. Think about it this way:

No more than 22 ounces per acre mixed with 3–20 gallons of water (depending on application) can be applied pre-harvest. One acre is relatively the same size as a football field (minus the endzones), or 43,560 square feet. If a farmer decided to apply Roundup and he put out 22 ounces mixed with 10 gallons of water on one acre, that would be equivalent to a Gatorade bottle (20 ounces) of Roundup mixed with 10 gallons of water spread evenly on the size of an entire football field. If you converted those 10 gallons of water into ounces that would equal 1,280 ounces. The concentration of the Roundup mix would only be 0.017 or 1.7% (22 ounces of Roundup in 1,280 ounces of water).

As stated in “The Truth About Herbicides in Wheat”  by Kansas Wheat, Anita Dille, Ph.D., a professor of weed ecology at Kansas State University states:

“The purpose of herbicides (like Roundup®) is for weed control. There are a number of different times that herbicides are put on for weed control. And often if you think of a wheat production system, it could be right before planting or right after planting if there’s weeds during the crop.”

So, the  majority of herbicide usage happens before, or shortly after planting. That is around eight to nine months prior to harvest and if the herbicide IS used prior to harvest, only a MINUTE amount is actually applied.

Claim 2: Glyphosate applications are not regulated.

Fact: It is important to remember that glyphosate is regulated and poses no concern with regard to human health. It is regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As mentioned above, no more than 22 ounces of herbicide mix can be applied per acre.

Farmers also regularly consult local seed companies and state extension offices to make sure certain farm practices are needed for operation success during the growing season. Practices that are available may not always be practical.

For more information, please reference the additional resources links.

National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) Vice President Brett Blankenship addresses recent concerns about the applications of the general herbicide Glyphosate and encourages consumers to reach out to farmers if they have any questions about their food.

Additional Links and Information:

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