True or false: It is a good idea to use a more dangerous chemical to replace a safer one?
Before you answer, take a look at a couple of videos that the folks in Bristol in the UK should have watched before they decided to "go organic" and substitute vinegar (acetic acid plus water) for glyphosate — a supernaturally safe herbicide, which has been used for more than 40 years in the United States.
The first shows what happens when you drop a piece of magnesium metal into vinegar.
For a comparison, see what happens when magnesium is exposed to regular water:
Rather different, no? And, this doesn't just apply to magnesium. Other metals also react with vinegar, including iron, and aluminum foil, which can sit in water pretty much indefinitely, but is destroyed and dissolved by vinegar within minutes.
It borders on hilarious that the residents of Bristol are, quite literally, full of "piss and vinegar" because their town now reeks of the stuff. That's because the Bristol City Council decided to conduct a one-year trial during which time glyphosate would be replaced with vinegar, essentially turning the city into one giant salad.
This idea came from the Members in the European Parliament (MEP), which adopted the advice of the EU Commission, which is in the process of deciding whether to restrict the use of glyphosate (banning it for individual use) because of phony concerns about cancer.
Even anti-chemical environmental groups, such as the Pesticide Safe Bristol Alliance are scratching their heads on this one: "The only true trial involved here will be that endured by local residents, as they face a year of weeds growing upon streets and pavements, and the smell of vinegar in unexpected places."
The evidence that glyphosate causes cancer exists somewhere on the continuum between zero and zilch. I don't have time or space for it, but, if you'd like to read about the real non-story, I recommend this, and this.
Finally, it would be simply wrong not to include part of a University of Maryland study that compared the use of vinegar and glyphosate for purposes of weed control. No comment is needed.
Advice to Bristol:
- Take a chemistry class
- Put vinegar on your salad, and glyphosate on your weeds. Not the other way around.