The herbicide Roundup is the most heavily used weed killer in the world and the mineral phosphate used to make its active ingredient glyphosate is strip-mined in eastern Idaho. According to the Idaho Mining Association, Roundup is one of the largest grossing products to originate in Idaho, with downstream sales of more than $2 billion. Bayer Corp., which now owns Monsanto, is engaged in applying to open a new mine to provide this critical piece of its supply chain. By challenging the mining of phosphate used in Roundup, those of us concerned with the widespread use of this herbicide put pressure on both Bayer and the mining industry to reform their practices.

Phosphate mining in Idaho has resulted in superfund sites, groundwater pollution, selenium poisoning of livestock and wildlife, mining pits, access roads, dams, noise and the destruction and fragmentation of critical wildlife habitat. Several environmental groups, including Western Watersheds Project and the Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, are challenging these activities. More information on this issue can be found in an article by John Carter at

According to Charles Benbrook in an article in Environmental Sciences Europe, since Roundup was approved in the 1974 in the U.S., more than 3.5 billion pounds of glyphosate have been used in the United States, 19 percent of the 18 billion pounds used globally. Since Monsanto introduced “Roundup-ready” genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant seeds in the 1990s, use has risen 15-fold. Two-thirds of the total amount of glyphosate ever used has been used in the last 10 years.

Monsanto Corp. has consistently claimed that Roundup is not harmful, a claim that has been vigorously contested for decades. A recent class action victory has pierced this veil of deception, and several other cases are pending.

Kelley Weston, Hailey

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