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Add this to the litany of horrors unleashed by Frankenfood giant Monsanto. Genetically modified crops are now besieged by superweeds.
The gospel of high-tech genetically modified (GM) crops is not sounding quite so sweet in the land of the converted. A new pest, the evil pigweed, is hitting headlines and chomping its way across Sun Belt states, threatening to transform cotton and soybean plots into weed battlefields.
In late 2004, “superweeds” that resisted Monsanto’s iconic “Roundup” herbicide, popped up in GM crops in the county of Macon, Georgia. Monsanto, the US multinational biotech corporation, is the world’s leading producer of Roundup, as well as genetically engineered seeds. Company figures show that nine out of 10 US farmers produce Roundup Ready seeds for their soybean crops.
Superweeds have since alarmingly appeared in other parts of Georgia, as well as South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, according to media reports. Roundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which is the most used herbicide in the USA.
Yes, just as antibiotics have led to the creation of superbugs, Roundup infused crops are now overrun by herbicide resistant weeds.
In the U.S. alone, glyphosate use jumped by a factor of 15 between 1994 and 2005, CFS claims. And this herbicide gusher has given rise to a host of "superweeds" -- weeds that tolerate heavy doses glyphosate. How do farmers deal with superweeds? By jacking up the dose of glyphosate.
The trend of increased rate of glyphosate use is clear. For soybeans, per-acre applications of Monsanto's herbicide jumped by a factor of 2.5 between 1994 and 2006. Corn farmers didn't really embrace GMOs until 2002; accordingly, between 2002 and 2005, glyphosate use on corn "jumped from 0.71 to 0.96 lbs./acre/year, a hefty 35% increase in just three years."
Farmers of Roundup Ready crops appear to have entered a pesticide treadmill. They have to raise application rates to keep up with resistance; and every time they do, they create hardier and hardier weeds. Monsanto, which expects to rake in $1.4 billion in profit from Roundup sales alone this year, is evidently laughing its way to the bank.
More fun still: They're also producing pesticide resistant bugs. So, we've got that goin' for us. But, Michelle Obama should definitely use pesticides in her organic garden, because not using them makes the nice people at MACA "shudder." Yeah. Nature's scary.