The internet has been awash with varied opinions on the topic of “toxic wheat”. Farmers have categorically denied on online social media platforms of using glyphosate in some stages of pre-harvesting wheat. Although the denial and the fact that it is a rare practice, it has been identified that glyphosate is indeed used in the wheat farming business.
The growing season in Alberta where our farm is located lasts around 100 days and it largely depends on the prevailing weather conditions. Every farm action is meticulously planned for and it takes into consideration the aspect of time. Usually, planting in Alberta kicks off in the last days of April and early May. Given the limited time that defines the planting season in Alberta, it becomes necessary to use glyphosate in the pre-harvesting of wheat.
Using Glyphosate on Wheat
I have been able to identify that the practice of using glyphosate is largely misunderstood by many of those commenting on the topic of “Toxic Wheat”. Glyphosate is itself not a true desiccant. A desiccant is a substance that is applied on crops to enhance rapid drying dry down thereby enabling the farmer to harvest early. Basically, from a non-expert perspective, glyphosate is sprayed on mature wheat crops to enhance early harvesting as it will dry down early. The practice of using glyphosate on wheat is based on scientific facts and there are set regulations specified to monitor the entire process.
The spraying of herbicides on crops should never be done carelessly and without a need to do so. Unless there is a specific need to spray specific herbicides on our crops, it will not be sustainable to spend the limited amount of money we have on expensive herbicides. Just as any other business, our farm is intended to profit us and not to lose it by reckless spending of the money it generates.
The accusation that our farm produce is laced with alarming levels of glyphosate is misguided and very wrong. You can trust us that our crops are very safe for human consumption.
Instructions for using glyphosate in pre-harvest stages
- Adhere to the labeled instruction at all times.
- Use glyphosate only when the moisture level in the seed is less than 30%, when it is firm and when you apply some pressure with your thumbnail you will leave some dent on the wheat seed.
- It is a critical recommendation that those who grow the grains use the lowest appropriate levels of glyphosate and within the specified conditions to ensure that it does not contaminate the seeds.
- Ensure that you have a seven-day post-application window before harvesting the crops sprayed with glyphosate. Any early harvesting than this recommended time will render the harvest contaminated.
Our Crop Protection Guide dictates that glyphosate can only be sprayed to crops between 7 and 14 days before harvesting. If applied earlier than this time, this desiccant can hinder the maximum harvest that can be yielded from the crops. Any earlier spraying of glyphosate will also negatively affect the quality of the harvest. Only 14 crops are registered to be sprayed with glyphosate of which wheat is among them. Reglone, Heat and glufosinate are other desiccants that can be used in place of glyphosate.
Is there evidence backing the anti-glyphosate campaign?
It is Stephanie Seneff, a renowned anti-GMO campaigner who published a misleading study whose claims have fuelled the “Toxi Wheat” narration. Having extensively read about him, I have come to note that she serves as a senior research scientist at MIT’s computer science and artificial intelligence lab where she conducts biophysics and electrical engineering studies. All the claims that Seneff advocates for in her study are misleading and partisan leading to the question of whether her work can be taken as authoritative.