Is Nicaragua "Roundup-ready"?

I think the answer is no. That answer isn't unique to Nicaragua but it certainly has the right conditions to make glyphosate more of a problem than in some other places.

An article in MDPI, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, takes a serious look at glyphosate and kidney disease. Unlike many generic studies meaning ones that average results over the world, this one focused primarily on Sri Lanka.

Here is the abstract from the article.

The current chronic kidney disease epidemic, the major health issue in the rice paddy farming areas in Sri Lanka has been the subject of many scientific and political debates over the last decade. Although there is no agreement among scientists about the etiology of the disease, a majority of them has concluded that this is a toxic nephropathy.

None of the hypotheses put forward so far could explain coherently the totality of clinical, biochemical, histopathological findings, and the unique geographical distribution of the disease and its appearance in the mid-1990s. A strong association between the consumption of hard water and the occurrence of this special kidney disease has been observed, but the relationship has not been explained consistently. Here, we have hypothesized the association of using glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the disease endemic area and its unique metal chelating properties. The possible role played by glyphosate-metal complexes in this epidemic has not been given any serious consideration by investigators for the last two decades. Furthermore, it may explain similar kidney disease epidemics observed in Andra Pradesh (India) and Central America. Although glyphosate alone does not cause an epidemic of chronic kidney disease, it seems to have acquired the ability to destroy the renal tissues of thousands of farmers when it forms complexes with a localized geo environmental factor (hardness) and nephrotoxic metals.

The article explains how a combination of hard water, high temperatures and more along with glyphosate appears to be a deadly formula.

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pesticides and GMOs

Are we, as a human race spiraling down? Pesticides help for hardier plants and thus an increase in harvest yield. Great!! I was born in 1951. There were 2 billion people on the planet. In 2014 there are 10 billion people on the planet. In my opinion we have been able to outwit Darwin. Battlefield loss, hereditary disease, in short, we live longer through science. The labels on the foods in most markets do not list what I ingest. GMOs have paid, lobbied our government, to pass laws that allow those products to not list them as a source. My hope is that when I finally arrive in Nicaragua on or before June 15th that I will leave this all behind. I have read on Nicaliving that farmers in Nicaragua are resistant to GMO corn because it can't be used to seed the crop for next year. Now salmon are being altered like corn. Great! We are assured by the salmon breeders that their salmon is not breed able however 5% of eggs from them are possible. These are being shipped worldwide as I write this. An over could be ever tricked into view of the salmon with footnotes is available on the website of US Senator Jeff Markey, Oregon. Thousands of people die daily on our planet due to starvation. GMOs are not the answer, neither are pesticides. I would hate to think that the coffee from Las Diosas, farm run by women to help women, and labeled 100% organic could be tricked into using something along these lines. This is a tricky and complex subject. It seems although I don't want to eat pesticides that I am not allowed by law in the US to know if I am or not by reading the labels.

Charles Slane


I too had simular concerns when moving here

The facts are that crops are sprayed here just like in the US, however there are signs along the highway stating no transgenic crops. But GMO's come in here through import products and are the choice of many through economic pressures. Cooking oils based in vegetable or pure soy should be suspect and cooking oils like olive are harder to find and are expensive and coconut oil may be another alt choice. Eat out and you will be exposed to the cheaper cooking oils regardless. So you can grow your own crops and control some of these factors or buy organic, but here too it's over priced.

The good news is the food in general is still much healthier than where you live in that antibiotics and hormones are not pumped into most meats from what I can tell if at all. Even the store bought walmart eggs here need to be bashed hard several times to break them open, which says allot in it's self. Store bought milk does not last long, so this would also indicate less additives. Sugar on the whole is not fructose and is cane for the most part. Sprayed for sure, but not made from GMO corn that is not made for human consumption until it is processed and then magically it's OK to eat and then put into just about every product possible like in the US. But too much is still going to make you fat and unhealthy and this is why their are huge diabetes numbers in the population here and add GMO laced cooking oils in a society that likes to fry lots of it's food and you have a lethal combination.

PM me and we can talk more about this if you'd like

Antibiotics / hormones / GMOs

Why do you assume the meat here is free from antibiotics and hormones? They are readily available in any ag store and are used by farmers as first option for any health problems in livestock. Pesticide/Herbicide use in Nicaragua is way more intense than in the developed world, it is not uncommon for a crop to be sprayed 18-20 times with pesticides during the growing season. All vegetable based cooking oil should be assumed to be derived from GMO crops. GMO corn seed is readily available in any big ag supply store. All chicken you buy in a super comes from a confined feeding operation style setup, just like in the USA, except here no one is regulating the antibiotics and hormones being used by the producers.

You are

absolutely correct in that this was just an assumtion of mine, mostly wishful thinking is more like it, as I don't think there is any way other than rasing the food for yourself and putting that control in your owns hands.

Thank you for point that out. I was however assuming that the meat was not automatically injected with these things as part of the process, but really don't know? Although I can see them here not spending a dime on something they don't think they have to, like you are saying until they are sick and need to?

One problem with cattle here, besides wrecking the hills

…is that cattle for export and export labels is treated very much the way US cattle is -- fed corn or other grain which they have trouble digesting, so they have to be medicated for the side effects of that, or it's country cattle raised for maximum useage, so what you get as beef are old dairy cattle and anything that produces a large carcass. The best meat here would probably be from grass fed calf (older than veal but still under a year old) but killing at that age wouldn't produce either the very marbled meat that most people in the US consume along with whatever kept the cow or steer going until slaughter or the mass of meat after earlier use as a dairy or plow beast that is more typically what country Nicaraguans eat.

I would be suspicious of anyone claiming to produce organic grain finished beef. Cows eat grass for a living, and high doses of corn cause problems with them.

If you keep your own cattle, you can work pasture in such a way that you can get finished grass-fed beef, but if there's no market for it, that's a whole lot more handling of the cattle than if you had them on average grass in a large fenced area or on open range until you sold them to a finisher.

Rebecca Brown

"organic grain finished beef"

That's simple - supplement their grass with barley, it's done all the time by organic producers. Cattle eat whatever they're given. They'd much prefer to eat grain than grass given the choice. You're consistent about proving you know absolutely nothing about agriculture.

Horse can kill themselves if they get into grain

Humans do nasty thing to themselves with sugar and fats.

The book here is The Omnivore's Dilemma.

One of the things that does separate us from my tank of convicts is that we can actually learn from other people's experiences and my fish can only learn from their own experiences.

My friend who raised lambs fed them some grain but they were mostly grass fed. Her next door neighbor went the route of fattening up his lambs. I much preferred the taste of hers to his.

I suspect barley would be more expensive than corn here, and there's still little premium on organic stuff.

I think people who sell their cattle to feed lots convince themselves of what they need to convince themselves of. I spent some time talking to a cattle buyer in Cottonwood Falls, KS, and my uncle has been raising cattle for decades in the south and I've also talked to people who were doing grass-fed.

Rebecca Brown

Where Do I Start

was the title of the post I started . . ..and then threw up my hands . . .

I'm going to try a combination of enhanced, rotating, irrigated, pastures, with some grain supplement. I have some guidance; there has been a lot of documented work done in this area over the last decade, based on what the New Zealanders have traditionally done,, but I have no practical experience.

The concepts are simple to articulate: keep the cattle from ranging long distances, keeping the meat tender; if the cows are not being milked they WILL wander to the farthest corner of their confine, I have witnessed that, even if there is perfectly good pasture right in front of their nose. All that exercise will make the meat tougher.

Rotating pasture to obtain the maximum return and coincidentally preventing the cattle from re-ingesting parasites; Having the cattle graze a piece down maximizes the return, controls weeds, encourages the grasses you want.

Managing the free pasture for maximum return when the cattle return to that piece. Liming, soil amendment, irrigation, re-seeding. It's a lot more involved, but ithis form of pasture management is getting more popular (in the US, not in Nicaragua :)

Providing fresh, clean water so that the cattle do not have to drink from a pond, again, close to where they are grazing so they don't have to hike for it.

It's a lot more involved, but ithis form of pasture management is getting more popular (in the US, not in Nicaragua :) I don't pretend to have all the answers, just a hankering for some good beef.

Lots of people do it in various parts of the US

I've had very good grass fed beef, but my impression is that it's not always cost effective for certain environments. If I wanted to do something that required more than hauling the tank drain hose down to the back drain once a week and the filling hose up to the front of the house after vacuuming gravel, that's what I'd look into doing, but I'm good with my once a week water changes. Extensively managed cattle produce good meat, but from various hints I've gotten, it's labor intensive and management intensive. The farm I bought beef and lamb from was owned by someone rich enough to hire all the work done. My uncle apparently looked into it (he looked into growing shiitake mushrooms and marijuana, too), but didn't think it would actually work as a for profit making a living farm in his region..

For you, growing your own couple of steers for slaughter, it works. For Nicaraguan beef producers in general, probably not, because they would be hard pressed to get a premium for the meat. I'd still think that doing the classical European thing and slaughtering veal or calf would be simpler. Most US beef is raised on pasture to a certain age, then put in cow concentration camps (saw them in Colorado) and fattened.

Grass-fed is popular in the US where there's a sufficiently well off population that will pay serious money for the meat, or where there are sufficient independently wealthy people who use the farm as a tax write off and good feeling thing and are okay with making a profit however often the IRS says they need to make a profit, even if that doesn't earn them livings.

Part of my pasture in Virginia was pH. 5.2 and I about cried. My garden space was pH 5.8 or something, and I did lime it.

My impression is that New Zealand has a very different climate than here and parts of here are completely dry between December and May.

Rebecca Brown

More Whining from Jinotega

" Extensively managed cattle produce good meat, but from various hints I've gotten, it's labor intensive and management intensive."

The current issue of Stockman Grass Farmer has an article on a family in Texas raising 7,000 head of cattle, all on grass, using MIG practices. They have 3 people running the ranch. Once again Rebecca, you are clueless about agriculture. Low pH doesn't mean anything except that there is more hydrogen on the soil colloid - only a soil test will tell what is really present or missing from the soil.

I had the soil test from the country extension people

Thanks for playing. Thing is the pH in my area was generally low -- and some people had blueberries for pick your own in one place near me. So some parts of Texas get 60 inches (higher than where I lived on the East coast) to less than 10 inches per year.) Irrigation water isn't free either.

Thanks for the mention of Stockman Grass Farmer.

Our grass fed beef people in the east are more like this: And that part of Virginia would be a good place to try that.

If this was easier or cheaper to do than conventional cattle operations, more people would be doing it.

Rebecca Brown

My Observations Precisely

The larger ag ventures like Pellas' have the resources to determine precisely what they need to maximize their bottom lines. They don't overspray, or use more product than they need because it wastes money.

Many small farmers simply do not have any guidance, and are at the mercy of the ag stores for help.

On the other hand, labor is so cheap in Nicaragua that the larger ag supply companies can hire "agronomists" as salesmen.

This brings us full circle to the argument about the quality of education in Nicaragua, and also interestingly, to the question of who is driving a more "organic" farming in Nicaragua. I've told my story of the gentleman growing tomatoes in cloth grow houses north of me so he doesn't have to use pesticides . .. his motivation for the investment was a contract with Palí (Walmart) that required no discernible pesticides at harvest.

Walmart -a favored whipping boy of the lefties- is the world's largest seller of "organic" produce. That must smart.

There is still plenty of opportunity in NIcaragua to roll your own. But, If you want to sell what you grow -and make a profit - the same rules apply to you. Those commie bugs don't choose between liberal and conservative tomatoes and potatoes . . . It comes down to the same for everything else in life: You just have to smarter than the average bear . . .and work a little harder.

yea Walmart!

That makes 2 records for them. Walmart is the largest seller of firearms in the USA. Maybe they should advertise ``Making America healthy and free``.

From what I can see, organic farming is a fringe element here. Farming in the north is further complicated by the fact that much of the land is marginal (too steep, too rocky, etc.) and there are no large irrigation projects. Starting out with bad soil and lack of water doesn`t bode well for organic farming.

I was in Madriz the other day and the signs of desertification from overgrazing are very obvious in some places.

``Socialism works fine until you run out of other peoples` money``

Margaret Thatcher

Traveling Into Rio Coco

it's amazing to see the differences where the trees were NOT cut. A good part of the north was ruined by the clear cutting the Sandinistas did to pay the Ruskies for their "help".

The area would lend itself to some dams and reservoirs, but that stuff is not politically correct these days.

They could build ponds all

They could build ponds all over the place to collect water during the wet season but future oriented people generally don't live near the equators.


and the ones that do here live in fear of their neighbors. We visited a farm where the people have a spring in the middle of their property and they were ``under pressure`` to give water to their neighbors.

If you have water, lawyer up!

``Socialism works fine until you run out of other peoples` money``

Margaret Thatcher

I've seen them.

They're not that uncommon here. And there's Lake Apanas, which is being illegally used for irrigation, apparently. A lot of dammed lakes and ponds silt up in less than a geological amount of time, especially if people are logging land and farming land too steep for cultivation.

Rebecca Brown


are common in the Segovias, but on nowhere near the majority of farms. Most are sized to just barely get by to water the cattle in the dry season and cannot be used for irrigation for feed. Some are used for limited watering of crops for planting or for the canicula, but it is not usually sized for all-year or all season irrigation.

More and more I see serious farmers using plastic goods--black plastic on the ground, wind screen around the edges of their fields, drip tubing, bug mesh etc. This greatly enhances production, but I guess the down side will be that when this plastic exceeds its usefull life it will be burned in place.

``Socialism works fine until you run out of other peoples` money``

Margaret Thatcher

And learn how to write without cliches.

Organic food is generally pricier than non-organic food. The Nicaraguan rich are as involved in food fads as the rich anywhere with internet connections are.

The government here apparently does do a lot with agriculture and helping small farmers. Agriculture is even more so than buying before renting. Farm with a local partner for three years before telling people how to do things.

Walmart isn't the whipping boy because of its organic produce, but because of how it treats labor (as in making it impossible for workers to pick up other jobs because of overnight adjustments in schedules).

Organic food isn't a left cause as much as it's a yuppie cause -- interesting discussion of US food issues in Michael Pallen's The Omnivore's Dilemma. One of the organically certified insecticides was first discovered as a fish poison -- rotenone. The issues with pesticides, including the ones the plants themselves produce, is complex. The Amish produce I bought in PA didn't get sprayed with anything and had worms in the broccoli (and worm damage so they weren't adding worms before sale for that organic touch). My locally purchased tangerines look less than cosmetically perfect. Yuppies want their organic produce to also look good, so we end up with fun stuff like organically certified pesticides.

Organic profitability for farmers declines in the US the further south one goes. We're at 13 degrees north here, and Nicaragua doesn't get killing freezes. Organic works best where the ground is solidly frozen for more than a foot during the winter. And some organic crops, particularly apples, require a several mile wide barrier of sprayed apples around the organic farm to make unblemished apples for the organic markets.

The basic diet here isn't bad -- it's the imported junk food and duplicates of imported junk food that cause the problem, along with possibly a genetic issue with carbohydrate processing that in lean times works well to conserve calories and which in better times, leads to diabetes. Fewer pure Europeans get Type II diabetes compared to Africans and indigenous Americans.

Farming is one of those things where you can work very hard and if everyone else in the world has a bumper crop that year, prices fall and you can even lose money on a crop. The best year for some farmers is a very bad year for other farmers. And the best crop to grow is something mildly to very habituating or even addicting (coffee and tobacco). People can switch vegetables, meats, and fruits to whatever's cheapest in the market, but R.J. Reynolds knew what he was doing when he hooked vast portions of the world on Bright Leaf.

Rebecca Brown

Why Would Anyone Partner

with a local (I assume you mean a campesino and not a Pellas) ??

What would I personally gain from such a partnership -other than an empty wallet? I do have a "do-gooder" budget, but I can target my money to where it generates results that I can control and evaluate. So far, those results have been pretty positive,, another investment if you will. My little campo girl who was wormy and ate with her fingers when I first met her is now a tall and impressive young lady,, studying physics and chemistry this year, and will start medical school in 2016. Nicaragua needs doctors, that's my idea of an investment.

Farming is an investment, like any business -or serious hobby for that matter.. I can observe how my neighbors farm, and their results, without pouring my money into their land. In fact, I did let a neighbor grow a couple of Mz of corn on land I had vacant. It needed to be limed -he didn't. It needed some amendment to maximize the corn yield -he didn't. The ears he got were half the size they should of been. But, for him, it was a great deal, something for nothing. The Nicaraguan dream.

I'm putting the same area into corn this May, I need the corn for my grain fed beef. I'm tired of eating Nicaraguan shoe leather. I'll give any eager money out there ten to one odds that MY corn will be twice the size of what he harvested..

Why not put your money where your mouth is,, like I do?

I was thinking of the Kulak class, actually

Guys who own land and have farm laborers, but who get their own boots muddy, like my former next door neighbors, and other small farmers world wide. They're smart; they know their stuff even if they imagine that their farm workers are happy with their lives.

There are ways to do grass-fed right and see the Omnivore's Dilemma for why corn-fed beef is problematic. Also, the other thing to do is slaughter younger, sort of after the veal stage but under a year. It will be tender enough (same as the lambs I used to buy from a friend who did very little finishing with grain).

I know enough about farming to avoid it. I've got orchids in the passageway and three tanks for fish. I'm good.

A Swedish agronomist traveling through here found a guy in Miraflor who was doing traditional farming without the chemicals and who was successful at it. I also know people who grow most of their own food, don't just talk about how they're going to do it.

One of the things I notice is that people tend to want to bring their home grown stuff here -- and think inside their young adult acculturation boxes. I put tejas in the tank for the convicts and this works out very well -- gives them space to shelter wigglers without having them in the same pit for more than a day or two and and gives them visual isolation from the other convicts. A guy who's been living here and doing research on convicts in Xiloa suggested flower pots, which are not free in clay here. Tejas are. I doubt seriously that tejas would be cheap in the US if I could find them.

One reason I suspect people grow so many more fruit trees in town than grow vegetables is that fruit trees do well in acid soil compared to the standard crops. Regions with acidic soil can grow tobacco and apples well, and pot, and if the soil is acidic enough, blueberries (coffee evolved in Ethiopia so whatever their soil is works for coffee).

A friend of mine who did charity in the past and I noticed and agreed that charity is a form of bullying. If it goes beyond that bullying component, then it's over all good, but the people who indulge in charity tend to be overbearing.

There are always ways to solve problems and some of the solutions are not the ones people use in the US.

We had a guy in P****** who was sure that he was smarter than the locals and the only reason they didn't grow apples where he bought land was that they were stupid. He went bankrupt. When I was back after ten years away, I asked someone from that area why they didn't grow commercial apples. Late frosts every two or three years in May.

Agriculture, even growing orchids, is a matter of local conditions. If you have to build a greenhouse to grow peaches, you're in the wrong crop.

Guy came into our area to raise Belgian horses and ended up in partnership with my uncle and is now his closest friend (and knows who gets what in my uncle's will). He does things the way my uncle does them now.

Being sure that you know more than local farmer is a sure sign of not being really as smart as you think you are. My grandfather's comment to me once was "You can't break a horse to a book." My observation is that if you're not getting your boots muddy, you're hiring people to farm for you -- and they're not going to pay any attention to you unless you bring a better crop than they do several seasons running.

And that kind of farming is physical and intellectual. My uncle was on his tractor planting corn when he had a heart attack at 82 or so -- and he isn't impressed or particularly pleased that the doctors kept him alive.

Farming is for people who are born farmers like nothing else on this planet. I respect real farmers. The blow-hards who come in dissing the people who've been farmers for generations, I disrespect until they've got the hardened hands and muddy boots of a real farmer, and know what this hill grows best compared to this other hill, and can eyeball an animal and know when it's ready for slaughter. Cookshow, I respect. So far, you talk a lot about farming over the last four years that I've been knowing you, but no crops. If you were a born farmer, you'd be doing it, not talking about how you're going to do it.

I'm probably going to put my money with Columbia University and get an annuity. If they can promise me that my investment will go to creating a travel fund for kids from other countries after I die, I will do it, but I don't know if they'll make me that promise for the little bit of money I could put in the annuity.

It's not a matter of pouring money into someone else's land -- it's learning why they do what they do if they've been on the land for several generations. Something else might work better, but how they do things traditionally (or how they did things) kept them alive for thousands of years. Farmers tend to be very conservative for a lot of reasons, but if something works better for more than one season, they'll adopt it. Not talking about the very poorest landless campesinos here, but people who own their land and work along side their crews and families.

It's a way of life I don't want for myself, but I do respect people who actually do get their boots muddy and who spend the years in the field needed to really know their land: Cookshow, Billy Bob, two guy named Tony, my former neighbors, couple of landowners I haven't met but have heard about.

Me, I'm happy when my orchids bloom and my fish spawn under my care. Don't want to raise either at scale again. Fish are like art -- you can have the fish you love or the fish you can make money from --- and the more sophisticated an aquarist you are, often the wider the distance between the two. Orchids -- lo mismo -- I don't have one showy Catt alliance hybrid in the mix of things hanging on the wall here.

I have sufficient income now to not have to care about monetizing my passions. Fish, camera, orchids -- and I'm living in a place where I can walk to a couple of collection sites or take a short bus ride (haven't been to San Raphael del Norte yet).

My sense of accomplishment would be discovering something not described in the scientific literature yet. Rivulus jinotega is out there somewhere.

Actually, what Nicaragua needs are doctors who'll work out in under-covered areas. I've got probably 20 doctors in a ten block radius of where I live and probably twice as many lawyers. Getting doctors to work in RAAN and RAAS seems to take either extreme religion or extreme politics (the Cubans sent the Che Guevera Brigade to work in RAAN for two years or so). Since there's no money out in RAAN and RAAS compared to the Pacific coast, that's going to take funding to pay them to be there for some period of time.

Another dermatologist in Managua -- not really necessary.

You don't seem to understand partnership between newbies and people with experience. You've read books. When I was new to killies, the American Killie Association sent me to Bruce Turner. No money exchanged hands. I'm asking questions now of a man who does fish research in Nicaragua, again, not about money, but about learning about this fish, how it behaves in the wild, how it adapts to an aquarium.

Rebecca Brown

Dr. frankenstein was right, you can creae life in the lab

world pop is only about 7 billl. when it hits 12 bill in 2050 the social and environmental systems will collapse and we will have a great dieback to 1 bill or less and start over. Not to worry, its Mother Nature at work.

``Socialism works fine until you run out of other peoples` money``

Margaret Thatcher


Population is predicted to max out at 9 billion.

A lot of countries are at ZPG now

…including a lot of the ones that supposedly were going to be perpetual problems, like much of Latin America.

The class bias of Malthus was evident -- but people of all classes can and do adjust their fertility if they have the tools.

Rebecca Brown

All religions too

Women all over the world don't want to be baby machines. If they can space out their children, they will.

A friend who visited Guatemala talked to women there

One of the methods they used was sterilization -- the baby making is over. I've read that's also common in Brazil, which is another country with ZPG or less.

Sort of a trade -- the Catholic church got its way with being anti-abortions, but just about everything else goes, including OTC day after pills here in Nicaragua.

Rebecca Brown

Not unusual

It sounds ghastly when you call it sterilization, but tubal ligations (having your "tubes tied") and vasectomies are pretty common and preferable to abortion or two decades of support payments.

I Hope This

is the cause of the epidemic, a relatively easy fix.

However, we have been using RoundUp for about as long as I can remember in the US. It's sold without permit for weed control in driveways, and I imagine a fair amount is sprayed on highway shoulders. . Application is described in the commercial: you squirt it at the base of the offending plant.

No one drinks it here like in India, of course.

The conditions may not be sufficiently similar in the US to those in Sri Lanka or Nicaragua, so a comparison may not be relevant.

RoundUp is often applied with a wipe applicator rather than by spraying. Imagine a conventional cultivator with Swiffer Duster pads instead of the usual tines. This was designed more to minimize use of what is a relatively expensive material, rather than to meet environmental concerns.

Campo labor in Nicaragua is so reasonable at this point that it probably makes sense to eliminate weeks the old fashioned way. My observation is, use of pesticides and herbicides in Nicaragua goes well beyond what is necessary.

In any case, there would have to be some persistence of the chemical in the field as it's used early-on, well before harvest, or the chemical would have to be getting into the ground water. The latter should be easy to determine.


Ontario banned weed killers for cosmetic purposes in 2009. We have dandelions everywhere now and the weeds at the side of the road are starting to look pretty.