According to the National Toxics Network and World Wildlife Foundation, Australia has some of the most dangerous pesticides registered for use in agriculture. These include 17 pesticides that are identified as likely or probable carcinogens, and 48 pesticides marked as potential endocrine (hormone) disruptors. More than 20 of the pesticides are classified as either extremely or highly hazardous by the World Health Organisation. Three of the pesticides are subject to actions by International Conventions but are still used in Australia.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the majority of off the shelf synthetic weedkillers, commonly sold at local hardware and garden stores. Because of its popular use, it is regularly showing up in our air and water. Pesticide action network says that glyphosate can “activate the estrogen receptors in breast cancer cell line, which means it may be able to mimic the function of the key sex hormone estrogen”. Through research is has also been shown to deform the heads in developing frog and chicken embryos.
Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in Australian agriculture. It is used to control weeds in sorghum, maize, sugar cane, pine and eucalypt plantations. Artrazine has been banned in the European Union since 2004 due to groundwater contamination. Atrazine is a suspected endocrine/reproductive disruptor.
Banned from use in the European Union, Bifenthrin continues to be used in Australia and the United States. This is the key ingredient in numerous insect-control products. It’s listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a possible carcinogen and is toxic to fish. It is already banned in several counties.
Chlorpyrifos is an insecticide used on an extensive range of Australian fruit and vegetable crops, cotton, sugar cane, cereals and pastures, domestic gardens and domestic pests including termites. The APVMA initiated a review of chlorpyrifos in 1996 because of its potential human toxicity, acute toxicity to birds and water pollution.
Illegal to use in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany, Carbaryl is often used primarily as an insecticide, aiding in the destruction of the all-important honeybee.
No matter how well the product may work at destroying weeds and pests it could also be destroying you as well. Don’t be a guinee pig for the multinational agrochemical businesses. Avoid these chemicals at all costs. Only use organic, natural, weedkillers, pesticides and fertilisers and always read the label.
Sources: National toxic Network, World Health Organisation, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Protection Agency.