U.S. farmers are dealing with a superweed epidemic, and it's not as groovy as it sounds on first read. Ubiquitous use of the weed killer Roundup over time has spawned herbicide-resistant superweeds , much as heavy use of antibiotics over past decades has bred drug-resistant germs and bacteria.
Roundup -- which was created by Monsanto but is now sold generically under the common name glyphosate -- has been a boon for agriculture over the last 20 years. Genetically modified crops are immune to its poison, meaning farmers can spray down their entire fields with the stuff, killing off invasive weeds while leaving their harvests in perfect order. It degrades quickly, and cuts down on erosion, agricultural fuel cost, and carbon emissions because farmers don't have to plow their fields under each season.
At least, they didn't have to until now. The first glyphosate-resistant species was identified a decade ago, but that resistance is now shared by at least 10 species in 22 states, affecting between 7 million and 10 million acres of land predominantly hosting soybeans, cotton and corn. Farmers battling with resistant strains of horseweed, pigweed and ragweed are having to turn to stronger herbicides, plowing and pulling weeds by hand, methods that could lead to increased environmental harm, lower yields, and rising prices. Andrew Wargo III, president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts, told the Times, "It is the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen."
The situation closely mirrors the overuse of anti-malarial drugs in the middle of the last century; such overuse caused the strongest, drug-resistant strains to proliferate through a sped-up version of natural selection, rendering the drugs ineffective. A similar case is the epidemic of wheat stem rust that researchers around the world are battling to contain now that the genetic safeguards crop engineers embedded in the wheat genome decades ago are failing against a newer, hardier strain of the devastating disease.
Roundup Ready crops account for some 90 percent of soybeans in the U.S., as well as 70 percent of the corn and cotton. Such overwhelming use of a single safeguard creates a ripe situation for evolution to get the upper hand, and that appears to be exactly what's happening.
In the long run, Roundup resistance could lead to reduced interest in genetically modified crops; if the weed killer no longer kills the weeds, there's little point in paying a premium for poison-resistant crops. But hopefully we'll also learn something from it as well: Life on this planet is predisposed toward diversity, and when we institute widespread uniformity on diverse systems we tend to find that nature wins out in the end.
I don't know what's funnier - the article which I read with an evil laugh or lax4ever1's comment.
We used round up for years against all kinds of things. Mother Nature really knows what she's doing though.
That's right Beantown179, Monsanto also patents all the genetically modified crop seeds and sues local farmers who try to grow different seed brands and organic seeds. Seems the GM stuff likes to invade those fields too and since Monsanto own the patent on the lifeform they can charge these people for the privilige of contaminating and ruining their fields. Super Evil Genius!
Now they will patent new gentetic mutant lifeforms and toxins and make even more money. <INSERT EVIL LAUGH HERE>
how does a strain become resistant?
like if the herbicide kills the weed in ny, how would a weed in ca be resistant to that herbicide?
il juste ne sens
When a farmer sprays their field, it kills all the weeds, but maybe there is a plant or two that has a gene to resist the herbicide. This plant survives, breeds, and passes along the gene. Soon, the whole field is filled with these resistant weeds. The same things happens with antibiotic resistance, and pesticide resistance.
@JimmyD...so, how exactly does Monsanto own the patent on the lifeform? And how can they sue farmers for not using their brands??
I'm not from a farming community, so this sounds either like sheer lunacy or typical Govt allowing dumb patents.
Monsanto owns the specific gene code that makes up their plants. No other company can develop a plant with the specific herbicide resistance in that spot in the plant's DNA. And they can't sue a farmer for not using their brand. They CAN sue the farmer is he replants seed grown from a monsanto crop. You have to buy new seed each year(technically) that's how they make a profit! (e.i. $220 per 50 lb bag of corn seed!)
A common misconseption is that resistance to herbicides, insecticides, antibiotics, and all these other selective killers acts like our immune system, where we are exposed to the agent, "learn" to fight it off, and are immune thereafter.
Going off of what chr said;
A plant that is not resistant to something like Roundup will NEVER be resistant to it (genetic alterations from viruses aside). But due to mutation, every now and then, some tiny nondescript weed will have a modified gene whoose expression, through various possible ways, prevents the adverse effects of the herbicide.
When all of it's friends are killed by the agent, that single plant will be left all alone with reduced competition in a fertile environment. The weed will then, as weeds often do, "grow like a weed". Suddenly All of the weeds present in the field are decendants from that one resistant weed, meaning that all of them now carry the genetic mutation that allowed their ancestor to survive.
The resistance did not travel from one side of the country to the other (unless say, something carried a wee'ds seed). The massive use of Roundup simply caused the same thing to happen twice. In both areas, at least one mutant plant arose that was resistant to the herbicide, and then it propegated itself. The mutation that encoded resistance on the East Coast is very likely different than the one on the West Coast. Mutations simply arose that had the overal effect of resistance to Roundup, and that gene was viciously selected for.
Such intense bottlenecks often result in rapid population-wide resistance that can take as little as one generation to go from defensless plants to resistant plants.
Sorry for the verbosity. Hope this clairifies.
what if the genetically modified plants that are resistant cross pollinated with the weeds creating the resistant weed?
how is pulling weeds by hand "methods that could lead to increased environmental harm"? you mean driving a huge tractor over your crops isn't harming the environment?
"Monsanto owns the specific gene code that makes up their plants." -Chr
This just proves the old addage that campaign contributions are the best investment a company can make. This is a failure of government.
"No other company can develop a plant with the specific herbicide resistance in that spot in the plant's DNA."
They can, it's just that they'll come under attack from government goons.
"You have to buy new seed each year(technically) that's how they make a profit! (e.i. $220 per 50 lb bag of corn seed!)" - Chr
It's an all round terrible idea to save seeds regardless.
Seeds produced for planting are different than seeds produced for eating. Seeds for planting are of uniformly great quality and of a known and uniform germination rate; they are grown under controlled conditions and carefully screened for plant pests and diseases. Hybrid seeds produced from cross-pollination(i.e. most food crops) do not reliably produce true copies and cannot be saved.
The skillset and capital required to produce plant seeds is very different than the skillset required to grow the resulting crop; it's a bad idea for farmers to produce their own seeds.
I told ya so don't quite cut it. This is a prime example of what happens with humanities meddling with mother nature goes out of hand, Huh maybe this is a warning for humanity to cut its shiit let nature run its own damn course!..GOD!
If you want to know more about growing food in America you should check out the documentary "The Future of Food". You can watch it for free at Hulu.com. I know that documentaries can be very one sided so you have to take it with a grain of salt, but it is very eye opening. It shows that Monsanto plays a big part in most of the things we eat and drink. It also does a good job at linking together things like corn subsidies, obesity in America, E coli outbreaks, and the big business takeover of food production in America. Check it out and reply.
Aside from the article I'd like to point something out. That tractor is way way too big for that sprayer. that is overkill if i've ever seen it. Also, that sprayer is way way too small for that field. Seriously, that would take forever. That sprayer looks like it belongs on a golf course.
As for the article. People who use round up ready crops year after year have known that resistance builds within their crops. Or at least the ones who pay attention do. thats why some farmers have started mixing sprays to hit the plants with two different chemicals. Usually the second spray is a small part but the chances of the weeds being resistant to both sprays is very very very small. of course down the road we will have even more super weeds but by then we'll have lasers to shoot them all :)
Monsanto is pure EVIL
They should be shut down FOREVER.
Yes thats the inadequacies of government.
Now can people at least start to GET the problems with GMO?
Come on people, can't you see the problem with the premise of man's perceived dominance over Nature!!??
Lets get along with HER, and step out of these evil and self-destructive tendencies.
I don't see how this is a GMO problem. there would be round up resistant weed whether we had GMO or not. It was a natural occurance. its not like GMO crops are infecting weeds. If you want to rid the world of GMO crops you can try but there is gonna be a lot of resistance. Those GMO crops enabled the US to produce a record corn crop and not only that, it was achieved on 1 million less acres than the last record corn crop.
Also you have to define GMO. Are you only talking about the hybrids that have had gene splicing or are you even talking about crops that have been bred for better performance? Technically that is also GMO since it was humans selecting the favorable traits to attempt to pass on.
So many comments here show a complete ignorance of how GMOs and pesticides work.
First off, yes it is obscene that companies (not just Monsanto) get so much power from owning a patent.
The issue is not with Monsanto, it is with the government. Patent regulations were around long before Round-up.
Second off, if you want to regulate how farmers can grow their crops (for example, no more genetically modified organisms or synthetic fertilizers?) then FUCK OFF.
Why, you ask?
The simple fact is that our world is dying from hunger. Protesting advances in agriculture of any shape or form makes you a MURDERER by contract killing.
I see the government's point that the public at large should really not be allowed to decide for themselves what they should be allowed to irrationally fear. Why should GMOs/cloned plants or organisms have to be labeled? Doesn't that simply encourage wrong beliefs that they are at all dangerous?
Even though the green revolution of farming has been damaging the environment, these new techniques are NECESSARY.
For more backstory on Monsanto, Roundup-Ready crops and genetically engineered foods, watch the documentary "The Future of Food." Still mindblowing 6 years after it was released (which just shows you how insidious and prevalent these practices are) and guaranteed to make your stomach turn for all the injustice Monsanto, DuPont and others are causing the populace as well as the independent farmers...
You can watch it online for free here:
I mean, "What sleep123 said!"
burn in hell Monsanto!
Give me a break here you really think this crap is good??? you are a strange bunch so you say you would rather have somebody spraying deadly chemicals on your food??, Damn you people are stone headed and also, i agree monsanto can burn they profit over a chemical business the has a high chance for killing us and those who support monsanto go drink some of its pesticides
C'mon i dare you to argue!!!
Another film to check out is "Food, Inc." Check out the website: www.foodincmovie.com
It's another fairly one sided argument but the images and interviews are pretty interesting.
There is a section in it about farmers who had cleaned their own seeds for years for replanting and how companies like Monsanto made the practice illegal. Also a rundown at the end of how many high ranking government types are now or formerly board members and shareholders of the GMO business.
"The Future of Food" movie really does get into the stupidity about the patent laws and how companies want them to be international. It also hits on how the world hunger problem is not being addressed and can be made worse by all this. Also interesting about the Sterile suicide gene being inserted.
So if you are looking for a double feature weekend that will make you mad as hell and want to cut your own wrists check them out.
i remember reading about some Roundup-Ready WEED before but i am googling and cant find it for shit. it was probably some feral hemp leftover from the hemp for victory program, so ditchweed, but it had somehow acquired the roundup ready gene.
googling for it i found some threads, one person is trying their damndest to create a roundup ready cannabis, but they arent trying to introduce genetics, they are spraying dilute concentrations of roundup on their plants, i guess hoping for the lucky one that is capable of surviving. not the best method, that could take them 100 years lol. i would buy monsanto seeds just to harvest and sow the next years seeds just to spite them(as long as there is no terminator gene). how are you going to sue people for planting seeds that came from plants that came from seeds?
anyway they should just give it up and find a way to kill kudzu. roundup doesnt phase it. poisoning over time strips off a chromosome and mutates it a bit, making like 50 thin vines come up from a node which would usually send up one vine.
Huh duh what you just said Mutation, ring a bell first the plants then us im going to laugh when the zombie apocalypse fall upon us due to overmutation
The executives at Monsanto should be made to drink Roundup for perpetrating the fraud that we could just make roundup resistant lawns and that weeds wouldnt ever develop the resistance to it. What a bunch of losers. Where are they? Lets find these evil fiends and put them in stocks and throw rotting round up resistant weeds at them.
Oh, that's what that is!!!
The Round-Up resistant species of
"Thank You, Monsanto" yellow nutsedge in my yard!!!
Some points missed in the comments (so far):
There is no way to control pollen that is produced by Monsanto (or any) GEO crops; it becomes ubiquitous in a region where such crops are introduced.
Monsanto sues farmers whose crops test positive for their patented genes. The genes get into local crops via cross-pollination, even though the seeds were obtained by the farmers from their own non-Monsanto sources (such as their own harvest from the previous year).
Many of these farmers have been driven into bankruptcy because Monsanto contaminated the genetic pool. Even when a crop doesn't express (full) Roundup resistance, the mere presence of fragments of genetic sequences in a crop are used to initiate lawsuits.
Yes, Monsanto hires people to drive around and take samples of crops from farmers that do not appear on Monsanto customer lists. Monsanto maintains 'blacklists' of farmers that are designated as non-customers and otherwise troublesome (such as speaking out against Monsanto practices).
Monsanto has aggressively made it difficult, impossible and (sometimes) illegal for farmers to produce and cultivate their own non-Monsanto seed sources.
Often, Monsanto brings frivolous lawsuits, knowing they cannot win in court, but they drive farmers into bankruptcy before the cases are resolved. They deliberately drag cases out for years at a time to ensure they are as complicated and expensive as possible.
Monsanto also hires many lawyers in target regions, thus making them ineligible to represent farmers under conflict of interest statutes. Many farmers are thus denied access to competent legal counsel.
Watch the movies listed in the comments, then use google to confirm any portions you wish to question. Overall, you will find that Monsanto is pure corruption and evil.
Also, Monsanto is protected from liability for the evolved superweeds. It's considered a 'natural' and 'unforeseeable' occurrence, so even though their practices have specifically forced and created this evolutionary reaction in nature, Monsnato doesn't have to pay out one penny for the damage they've inflicted.
The people you have to thank are the U.S. Congressmen & Senators that Monsanto has bribed to pass laws favorable to Monsanto.
I still think round up resistance is overrated. I'm pretty sure we have other similar behaved weed killers that will work. For something as inevitable as round up resistance Monsanto surely had a long time to be working on alternative weed killers. You'd think they'd want to kill all this negative publicity just as bad. In the age of "too big to fail" companies really need to step up to the challenges before misunderstood radicals create offshoot schools of thought run rampant in society. It's not about who's right anymore. All we want is a highly efficient seed bank and crop growth system to fight starvation. I for one would like to hear a Monsanto spokesperson say they have it all under control and tell radicals their fear is irrational. It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it! Haha.
Monsanto is PURE EVIL.
They created terminator seeds so the farmers in poor countries would not be able to save seeds for next year as they have done for thousands of years.
Monsanto is an UGLY EVIL VILE company that would like to enslave the entire world by completely controlling food production. They take an active and aggressive stance to force organic farmers out of business.
Round-up is AGENT ORANGE used as a defoliant in Vietnam war by the Americans and has been proven to cause birth defects in women near the land it has been used on.
GMO scientists take genes from natural occurring plants resistant to insects that organic farmers plant and embed them in their crop plants and patent them. Because the amount of natural insecticide produced is higher than in normal plants the insects develop a resistance and then the organic farmers methods, natural methods of biodiversity planting, no longer work. GMO modified is a bad thing. Europe won't accept GMO crops.
Nature is in the intensive care ward, and we are ripping out the IVs.