A few years ago, one of the pastoral pastures in our remote valley was planted with grapes. Although I missed seeing the black angus cows grazing, I didn’t really mind the carefully planned rows of vines thinking they would look pretty once they matured. I did not think of the environmental consequences of this new vineyard beyond increased water usage until they started spraying Roundup.
We live in a county that has an ordinance against the use of pesticides and herbicides. When rumors of the Roundup plans began, I called the district attorney to see what our options were. Other than worker safety, the ordinance cannot tell a private landowner what to do. I felt frustrated and wondered what good is such an ordinance. It had stopped the United States Forest Service and the California Department of Transportation from using these products, but private landowners could do as they wished.
Recently, I visited a friend who is a vineyard manager in Napa. We had the Roundup discussion. Unfortunately, the wine industry views Roundup as a necessity and believes it quite safe, as they claim to use very little and feel it is not harmful.
NO amount of Roundup safe, in my opinion, and I asked why not use cover crops to control weeds and improve soil? What about mulching? Do you really trust Monsanto?
This conversation was a huge wake up call for me. I love wine! Most evenings I have one glass of red. It’s mama’s treat, but what is my wine habit doing to our health and the planet?
I pledge to only drink organic wine!
I will no longer support an industry that thinks Roundup is a necessity.
What wrong with Roundup? Besides being manufactured by the evil corporation Monsanto, the harmful effects to nature and the human body are countless. Roundup is proven to cause birth defects, amongst many other problems. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) explains:
Monsano’s advertising campaigns have convinced many people that Roundup is safe, but the facts just don’t support this. Independent scientific studies have shown that Roundup is toxic to earthworms, beneficial insects, birds and mammals, plus it destroys the vegetation on which they depend for food and shelter. Although Monsanto claims that Roundup breaks down into harmless substances, it has been found to be extremely persistent, with residue absorbed by subsequent crops over a year after application. Roundup shows adverse effects in all standard categories of toxicological testing, including medium-term toxicity, long-term toxicity, genetic damage, effects on reproduction, and carcinogenicity…
A recent study by eminent oncologists Dr. Leonard Hardell and Dr. Mikael Eriksson of Sweden, has revealed clear links between one of the world’s biggest selling herbicide, glyphosate (commonly known as Roundup, marketed by Monsanto), to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer – NHL…
The Women’s Cancer Resource Center (WCRC) and CHOSE (Coalition for a Healthy Oakland School Environment), showed that chemicals such as Round-Up (glyphosate) can result in reproductive damage as well as damage to the kidney and liver, and some studies show a link between the chemical and cancer.
(Chemical Injury Network, June 2001)
Glyphosate (Roundup) is one of the most toxic herbicides, and is the third most commonly reported cause of pesticide related illness among agricultural workers. Products containing glyphosate also contain other compounds, which can be toxic. Glyphosate is technically extremely difficult to measure in environmental samples, which means that data is often lacking on residue levels in food and the environment, and existent data may not be reliable.
(“Greenpeace Report – Not ready for Roundup: Glyphosate Fact Sheet,” greenpeace.org – April 1997)
The idea that Roundup is harmless is common in viticulture, even amongst those that are mostly organic. Consider this quote from Living on Earth: Vineyards Going Organic:
MUSIKER: Vineyard Director Mitchell Klug and wine maker Tim Mondavi are explaining how the winery has developed a new 400-acre vineyard and worked with other growers to restore neighboring Wichika Creek. Tim Mondavi says the winery takes seriously its responsibilities as stewards of the land, but they have no plans to register any vineyards as organic. The winery sometimes uses the mild herbicide Round-Up for weed control. Sustainable methods have meant higher costs, but Mondavi says they’ve been worth the investment.
It’s really quite hypocritical that I have not made the organic wine pledge before now since the only food we grow and purchase is organic and has been for twenty years. I don’t know why I was slow to make the organic wine commitment other than perhaps I have been swayed by public opinion that organic wine is not as good as conventional. This is certainly not true!
I have two good friends that make wine. Both of them grow their grapes organically; however, they do not market their wine as organic. Living on Earth: Vineyards Going Organic explains this conundrum:
MUSIKER: Corturri uses only organic grapes for his 3,500 cases of wine a year, and he doesn’t add any sulfur beyond what’s used to control mildew in the vineyards. This is organic wine. But Corturri doesn’t use his wine’s all-organic status as a selling point.
CORTURRI: Because the problem being, it’s real easy to get stuck into a niche. In any food industry, and especially in the wine business, if you make a big claim organically grown, no sulfites added, it starts looking like a health food as opposed to a wine. And our position is that number one, it’s a fine wine. And oh by the way, and if you’re interested, the grapes are grown organically, nothing’ s added to the wine.
MUSIKER: This ambivalence runs through much of the wine industry’s natural farming movement because, among other things, organic wines, especially whites, have had a poor reputation for quality. Even at Fetzer, which pays a premium to its organic growers, Paul Dolan says he isn’t convinced consumers care.
I do care! I will only buy wine that is labeled organic or I personally know the vinters to ensure no Roundup is used. I will not support Monsanto! Now I just need to convince the winemaking coop I am part of to make the same pledge when purchasing grapes.