Potted Plants And Perfect Lawns Deserve Regulation More Than Urban Chickens Do

My best friends love their urban chickens. They can recognize differences in breeds and call their hens by name. Chicken eggs show up in the most peculiar of locations in their yards, and sometimes, the clucking might be annoying. Even still, it’s not worse than listening to dogs bark. My friends had to fight for their rights to keep urban chickens.

Meanwhile, their neighbors spray Monsanto’s RoundUp around their decorative trees and plant pretty little annuals along their walkways and in gorgeous little pots.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. I’d rather live next door to my friends’ chicken coops than live near commercially potted plants and perfect landscaping. Those perfect lawns come at a cost, and I’m not speaking of their purchase price.

Adjunct professor of soil science in both the Division of Plant Science and the Department of Soil at the University of Missouri Robert Kremer is retired from the USDA after serving for 32 years as a research microbiologist with the Cropping Systems and Water Quality research unit. Kremer said that glyphosate, one of the key ingredients in Monsanto’s RoundUp, seems to affect the soil’s rhizosphere.

An old New York Times article explained that just like the human microbiome, “plants’ roots rely on a complex system of bacteria, fungi and minerals in the soil” in order to stay healthy. Soil experts say that RoundUp is harming our soil. Monsanto, of course, denies that its herbicide causes any significant adverse effects to microbial processes in soil. There are many who agree with soil experts like the retired USDA scientist, though.

Permaculture College Australia claims outright that “Roundup inhibits mycorrhizal fungi” and that “Canadian studies have shown that as little as 1 part per million of Roundup can reduce the growth or colonization of mycorrhizal fungi.” Mycorrhizal fungi are crucial to tree health. Pesticide News reported that some soil invertebrates are also harmed by the herbicide. In fact, as benign as Monsanto says RoundUp is, when tested against nine herbicides, glyphosate was found to be the second most toxic to a range of helpful bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. Not only that, but as the Inquisitr reported before, glyphosate is even hazardous to earthworms in amounts significantly lower than standard application rates.

When I see the weed-free edges around sidewalks, fences, porches, and trees, I look for that telltale burnt look that tells me someone just wrecked the soil. I guess it would be fine if it was their soil alone that was wrecked with their herbicidal use.

The fungi that have been colonizing plants’ roots for over four hundred million years actually extend the reach of a plant’s roots a hundred-fold. Fungal filaments connect plants and create an underground network, according to the Atlantic. So, when someone sprays their own soil to kill weeds along the fence of their property line, it disturbs the natural network of their neighbor’s soil, as well. It may not be as noticeable as a chicken feather, but it should be far more concerning.

Similarly, when I see the potted plants, I cringe. I know it’s plausible that the homeowner went out of their way to buy flowers that hadn’t been treated with neonicotinoids, the neuro-active insecticides at the heart of extreme controversy and implicated for bee deaths and the decline of other pollinators across around the country, but I also know that it’s highly likely the flowers are chemically treated.

Texas A&M disclosed that even though low-level exposure to neonicotinoids “do not normally kill bees directly, they may impact some bees’ ability to foraging for nectar, learn and remember where flowers are located, and possibly impair their ability to find their way home to the nest or hive.”

This month, Watertown Daily Times, a local paper in New York, reported that despite attempts to phase out neonicotinoids in garden center plants, a recent report released by Friends of the Earth and the Pesticide Research Institute “showed that 23 percent of such plants sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, True Value and Walmart have been treated with a class of bee-toxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids.”

The report indicated that it’s still not possible for consumers to determine if the plants from garden centers are safe for bees and other pollinators.

Sure, you can say that homeowners don’t shoulder the majority of the responsibility for the damage being done by pesticides and herbicides. You can blame Big Ag, but isn’t Big Ag the reason why so many people have turned to backyard gardening and urban farming?

Backyard chickens and gardens are heavily regulated by local ordinances, even though chickens remediate soil, rather than damage it. Meanwhile, people are apparently completely free to damage entire colonies of bees and their neighbors’ soil.

That’s backwards.

[Featured Image by Bryan Clayton/Pixabay]