Global glyphosate statistics cause for alarm

Herbicide specifically glyphosate use grew more than 10 times in 20 years.  The global glyphosate statistics are cause for serious concern.

In 20 years from 1995 to 2014 total global glyphosate use (agricultural plus non-agricultural) went from 67 million kg in 1995 to 826 million kg in 2014 (see the research article with this and more). A recent study of 10 Californian wines showed that all of them contained glyphosate residue. I don’t want it in my food or my wine.

At Chateau Feely we have not used herbicide since we bought the farm in 2005. After a few years the ‘bad weeds’ had all but disappeared competed out by the good weeds like clover that we want to fix nitrogen in the soil. All of these plants come to do something, they have a purpose, they are bringing back the equilibrium. Each wild plant tells us something about what is going on with our soil.

When we arrived the farm adviser we inherited was obsessed by the mauvaises herbes ‘the bad weeds’ he saw all over the vineyard; the kind of plants that we don’t want; four in particular that were ‘rampant’ chiendent (Elymus repens, couch grass), liseron (Convolvulus arvensis, field bindweed), chardon marie (Silybum marianum, milk thistle) and ronce (Rubus fruticosus, blackberry).

He was adamant that we should herbicide the vineyard. There was no getting away from these evils by other means. What is ironic is that it was this very thing -herbicide -that was used by our predecessors that had given these ‘evils’ the head start. When you don’t use herbicide and the ‘good weeds’ out compete the ‘bad’.

It is a miracle. I call it ‘eco-Logic’. Ecological thinking is also logical thinking.

Yes – if we sat on sun loungers and did nothing we would very soon have a forest instead of a vineyard so we keep the caro_feely_on_herbicidewild plant growth in check by mowing between the rows and plowing with a mechanical hoe under the vine row.

Further thought provoking research this week (end Feb 2018) from Generations Futures shows levels of pesticides in French produce – fruit and veg – at increasing levels and grapes as the worst culprit . Not surprising when you see the global stats for glyphosate use. Meanwhile Que Choisir analysed 40 Bordeaux wines – mostly grand cru classés from 2014 and found the majority contaminated with pesticides – but with a significant improvement on the same analysis done 4 years previously. Good news for those of us living in Aquitaine. Organic conversion continues to increase with 9% of French vineyards now organic compared to 1% when we started out on this road in 2005.

Buying organic shows that you value your health, that you respect the people growing your food and those living where your food is grown. To the wonder of great food and drink! Here’s to good health!

See our series on why organic starting with these basics in more detail. Come and learn more about organic farming with a visit to Chateau Feely in South West France ; stay with us or do a multi day course or multi day tour .

You can read about the story of our organic farm the series includes three books Grape ExpectationsSaving our Skins and Glass Half Full by Caro Feely. Join our mailing list to receive our seasonal newsletter, events, wine pairing, recipes and more info on this topic at the bottom right of this page.


  • Tara Chantoiseau


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