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November 11, 2010

Superweeds created by the use of Monsanto's Round Up

The Usual Bad News arising from the use of Round up ready crops!

There's been much recent news about Monsanto paying farmers to use its competitors' herbicides, in what many see as a last ditch effort to address the spread of superweeds created by the company's "Roundup Ready" (RR) GMO crops.

Environmental scientists warned even before Monsanto's "herbicide tolerant" GMO crops were approved that they would hasten the evolution of resistant weeds. For these scientists, the issue was obvious: introduction of high doses of a single chemical year after year would result in the exact conditions needed to breed resistance: weeds with resistance genes would be the only weeds that could survive and breed, leading to superweeds that are unaffected even by massive herbicide spraying.

Of course, Monsanto denied these early warnings. In a 1997 paper, Monsanto scientists claimed that weed resistance was such a complex genetic phenomena that RR crops would be unlikely to lead to resistant weeds. What's even more troubling, though, is that Monsanto continued to ignore the spread of superweeds for years, and worked to persuade and threaten farmers against strategies to avoid resistance - since those strategies would have cut into the company's sales of Roundup and RR crops.

In fact, superweeds from Monsanto's RR crops create more pollution while costing farmers time and money. Thanks to resistant weeds from GMOs, farmers have been forced to return to mechanical tillage: a 2006 report noted that resistant weeds on cotton farms had resulted in a 40% drop in the percentage of Tennessee cotton farms that use conservation tillage. Farmers are even back to hand-weeding, adding more time and labor costs. And of course, thanks to Monsanto, we all face the environmental costs from increased use of chemicals on GMO crops.

At Organic Bytes

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Posted by Marilyn Renaker at November 11, 2010 8:15 AM
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