Use of Roundup in Sweden
September 27, 2005 10:47 AM   Subscribe

My boss gave me an interesting assignment. . .Do they use Roundup (herbicide) in Sweden?

I am involved in decisions about the use of chemicals in my agency, and living in Oregon, it's always controversial. I am forever hearing how progressive Sweden is, and for that matter, Europe in general, in the realm of regulations and general caution about chemicals.

The reason I come here with this question is because I am betting on someone reading this having an English speaking contact in Sweden who might at least be able to steer me in a direction that might answer is question for me.

So, anyone know anyone in Sweden with a knowlege of landscaping or agricultural practices?

As usual, thank you for reading this even if you are as stumped as I am, right now.
posted by Danf to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
Sweden is a EU member and therefore has to comply with EU regulations, so the first stop is the EU website for anything regarding EU regulations, and particularly agriculture-related ones.
posted by elgilito at 11:18 AM on September 27, 2005

Best answer: The active chemical in Roundup is N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine, also known as glyphosate. According to the Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate, glyphosate is not only used in Sweden, but its usage is increasing. More here and here.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:34 AM on September 27, 2005

And the answer you're looking for is "Yes"
Here's the Google results

If you read the first PDF listed, it appears that Roundup is no longer available for general public use, but is still used as an agricultural product.
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:36 AM on September 27, 2005

Here's the site map for I don't read Swedish, but it looks like they have information on Roundup, which wouldn't seem likely if they didn't sell it there.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:53 AM on September 27, 2005

Yep, Roundup appears to be pretty safe stuff for animals. Of course we used to think DDT was pretty safe too.
posted by Mitheral at 12:56 PM on September 27, 2005

I think even Sara Stein uses Roundup. /slight veer off-topic
posted by Dick Paris at 1:13 PM on September 27, 2005

Response by poster: Well since it is so widely used, and since the scale of use can be anywhere from killing a few weeds in your driveway, to spraying hectacres of "roundup ready" crops (crops bio-engineered to be immune to glyphosate), some environmentalists are going to great lengths to prove a connection between Roundup, and, say, Non-Hodgekin's Lymphoma, while Monsanto maintains a huge PR effort to press their position that it's safer than table salt.

I am somewhere in the middle. The weight of evidence says, to me, that it is safe to use, carefully, yet that puts me at odds with people whom I usually share other political views with.

It's a stretch.
posted by Danf at 1:16 PM on September 27, 2005

On paper, Roundup (glyophosate) is safe for animals/humans because it inhibits the shikimic acid metabolic pathway that is absent in animals/humans. In plants the glyophosate blocks this pathway so they are unable to many crucial amino acids. Your two main controversies surround the 1) toxicity of glyophosate to alternative pathways in animals/humans and 2) Monsanto's "EULA" which forbids farmers from using seeds cultivated from Roundup-resistant plants sold by Monsanto (think subscription vs outright purchase).

At low concentrations, glyophosate, like DDT, is relatively non-toxic. But DDT sucks because it lasts forever so as you move up the food chain it begins to accumulate in high concentrations. Monsanto's research claims it biodegrades quickly so it will won't reach toxic levels. The jury's still out and long-term research continues...
posted by junesix at 2:11 PM on September 27, 2005

junesix, for me, saying something "is safe for animals/humans because it inhibits the shikimic acid metabolic pathway that is absent in animals/humans" is not really persuasive. All it tells me is that the stuff is not bad for animals in the same way it is bad for plants. That doesn't mean it's not bad for animals in some other way. I am glad the long-term research continues.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:27 PM on September 27, 2005

If you need any specific details, contact the national boards of forestry and agriculture.
posted by springload at 3:07 PM on September 27, 2005

According to the page, Roundup in its original formula was approved for use in Sweden in 1975.

I asked my mother (avid gardener, who just moved back to Sweden after 12 years in the U.S.) and she says that she has been able to buy Roundup in her gardening store with no problem.
posted by gemmy at 3:20 PM on September 27, 2005

Glyphosate is about as safe a herbicide as we've got at the moment. It is designed to KILL things, so one always has to wonder, but short of pulling every damn weed up by hand, what else are you gonna do?

Those with moral qualms about monsanto (including me) can easily buy generic - their patent on the stuff expired a while ago.
posted by wilful at 5:12 PM on September 27, 2005

Oh, and nice way to deal with the bosses assignment and mefi-surf at the same time!
posted by wilful at 5:15 PM on September 27, 2005

Response by poster: wilful. . you gotta love the efficiency.
posted by Danf at 7:26 PM on September 27, 2005

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