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Meet the Weeds That Monsanto Can't Beat

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- 1998 days ago -
When Monsanto revolutionized agriculture with a line of genetically engineered seeds, the promise was that the technology would lower herbicide use--because farmers would have to spray less.In fact, as Washington State University researcher Chuch Benbrook

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JL A (281)
Friday December 28, 2012, 1:54 pm

Mother Jones
Meet the Weeds That Monsanto Can't Beat
Big Ag's plan to kill spray resistant weeds? More spraying.

By Tom Philpott | Thu Dec. 20, 2012 3:06 AM PST

When Monsanto revolutionized agriculture with a line of genetically engineered seeds, the promise was that the technology would lower herbicide use [1]—because farmers would have to spray less. In fact, as Washington State University researcher Chuch Benbrook has shown [2], just the opposite happened.

Sixteen years on, Roundup (Monsanto's tradename for its glyphosate herbicide) has certainly killed lots of weeds. But the ones it has left standing are about as resistant to herbicide as the company's Roundup Ready crops, which are designed to survive repeated applications of the agribusiness giant's own Roundup herbicide.

For just one example, turn to Mississippi, where cotton, corn, and soy farmers have been using Roundup Ready seeds for years—and are now struggling to contain a new generation of super weeds, including a scourge of Italian ryegrass.

"Fight resistant weeds with fall, spring attack," declares a headline [3] in Delta Farm Press, a farming trade magazine serving the Mississippi River Delta. The article's author, a Mississippi State University employee, lays out the challenge:

In 2005, Italian ryegrass resistant to the commonly used herbicide glyphosate was first identified in the state. Since then, it has been found in 31 Mississippi counties and is widespread throughout the Delta. This glyphosate-resistant weed emerges in the fall and grows throughout winter and early spring.

The solution: "fall residual herbicide treatments followed by spring burn-down applications, where a nonselective herbicide is applied to fields before planting." Translation: to combat the plague of resistant Italian ryegrass, Mississippi's cotton farmers must hit their fields with a "residual" herbicide in the fall—meaning one that hangs around in soil long enough to kill ryegrass for a while—and then come back with yet another herbicide in the spring, to make sure the job has been done.

This multi-poison approach to weed control, apparently, is what passes for "integrated pest management"—purportedly a system of low-pesticide crop protection—these days.

“The integrated pest management program we recommend uses fall residual herbicides to help reduce the overall population and numbers,” [Mississippi State University extension professor Tom] Eubank said. “Fall tillage can also reduce weed numbers, but it is generally not as effective as residual herbicides. Producers should come back in the spring or late winter with an alternative herbicide program that attacks the plant using a different mode of action.”

In lieu of crop rotation and biodiversity, the non-toxic way to control weeds, the MSU extension service promotes what the article calls a "diversified herbicide program." And thus we get a clear look at why, since the introduction of Roundup Ready seeds in the 1990s, herbicide use has spiked [2].
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Karen Martinez (17)
Friday December 28, 2012, 2:11 pm
Why is anyone surprised? Nature is much stronger than anything man can create. Nature will always win out. Guess we need to go back to old-fashioned farming and pull the weeds ourselves! Mega-farms won't make much money, but all will be healthier for it. Maybe the mandatory community service folks could be put to work!

Roseann d (178)
Friday December 28, 2012, 2:31 pm
Too bad they've ruined so much land for future use.

Barbara K (60)
Friday December 28, 2012, 2:47 pm
We are being poisoned and the weeds get tougher. I've been ill for nearly 3 years from the poisons used on wheat. I have orders not to eat any grains. If the stuff kills bugs and weeds it will kill us. We will ingest much more than a bug does.

Kit B (276)
Friday December 28, 2012, 2:50 pm

The stronger the herbicide and pesticide the strong the herb and pests, we know this factually, and yet the same agencies charged to prevent this are those who are doing nothing.

JL A (281)
Friday December 28, 2012, 3:15 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Roseann because you have done so within the last week.
You cannot currently send a star to Barbara because you have done so within the last week.
Seems that money and influence speak louder than science Kit.You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.

Mitchell D (87)
Friday December 28, 2012, 6:12 pm
The only thing Monsanto is interested in is making more money!
I won't suggest that they knew of the downn side of using their products, but I am sure that they see the need to use still more pesticide as a bonus, rather than a failure.

JL A (281)
Friday December 28, 2012, 6:23 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Mitchell because you have done so within the last week.

Thomas Cole (10)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 4:37 am
America's weather is getting more extreme and the droughts of the last two summers are threatening to turn much of the Mid-West into a 21st century dustbowl.Over 90 % of pregnant women tested have iGM 'Roundup resistant' corn contamination in their bodies.
The citizens of America need to lobby hard to get Congress to ban GM foods that are having a devastating impact on the general health of the population,the wildlife and the enviroment along with the excessive use of chemical spraying.
It's beginning to look as if the developed world is beginning to harvest the seeds of enviromental destruction sown by the lobbying interests of the petro-chemical and GM industries.

JL A (281)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 7:27 am
Thanks for reminding us all of the other significant problems with Monsanto's underperforming product Thomas! You cannot currently send a star to Thomas because you have done so within the last week.

. (0)
Saturday December 29, 2012, 4:35 pm
Three cheers for the weeds for making these elites look stupid. The only way you will get rid of these super weeds is the same way you have to use to get rid of bamboo, kudzu and elephant grass: pull them out of the ground manually and destroy the root system in the ground. Got it?

Christeen A (371)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 12:49 pm
Go figure. Monsanto needs to be stopped before they can do any more damage. Thank you.

. (0)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 1:52 pm
Monsanto can't be trusted in anything they do. If people let them, they will continue to exacerbate hunger so that more will starve and they will enrich themselves further off of others' misfortune and suffering.

Ann Breeden (65)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 3:06 pm
I hate seeing that photo. When we lived in Maryland two fields over contained soybeans. That soil when I touched it was like dust. No worms, no micro-organisms, just dust. My husband and daughter were out by our barn when the sprayers of herbicide came through, dumping on both of them plus our horses. Not only were they dusting my neighbors field but ours as well. We don't live there anymore and now grow our own organic vegetables. So much healthier for everyone.

Winnie A (179)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 4:18 pm

Christina G (11)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 4:35 pm
they need to lose their corporation status and we need to sue every last one of them who poison us

Sheryl G (360)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 6:49 pm

There was a television advertisement I recall a long time ago, went "you can't fool with Mother nature". Ever watch that program that showed what it would be like with no humans, our Earth will come back, we won't. These crazy ones are simply that, crazy, the worlds people need to rise up and take back their land, air, and waters from them.

Support your local small farmer.

JL A (281)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 9:07 pm
You are welcome Winn.
You cannot currently send a star to Michael because you have done so within the last week
You cannot currently send a star to Dandelion because you have done so within the last week

Maureen C (4)
Sunday December 30, 2012, 11:33 pm
This is disheartening, but not surprising: nature always struggles for diversity, and Monsanto are not smarter or stronger than natural forces.

The farmers are the ones losing here: not only do they have to pay a premium for Monsanto's GM seeds, but they then have to pay for more of Monsanto's Round-Up glyphosphate herbicide; and they have a diminishing market for their product as more of us avoid buying any of their GM-containing products which we now know are doused with even more chemicals.

The genie is already out of the bottle as wind- or insect-borne pollen from GM crops is already in the wild. We should launch a class-action suit against Monsanto.

Herbert E (10)
Monday December 31, 2012, 2:53 am
M-Unsanto aught to be sent to the moon. With a ONE way ticket.

paul m (93)
Monday December 31, 2012, 5:50 am


JL A (281)
Monday December 31, 2012, 8:48 am
I agree Maureen (green star headed your way).
You are welcome Paul.

Diane K (134)
Monday December 31, 2012, 1:34 pm

BG Callahan (0)
Monday December 31, 2012, 3:28 pm
Hey! Let's develop a food grade variant of Italian Ryegrass and raise that!!!

John Farnham (52)
Monday December 31, 2012, 5:41 pm
I seem to recall either predictions or reports of super weeds that developed after years of RoundUp that were impossible for farm machinery to control....too tough. Not that Care2 members should be unaware of the problems of using poisons as a cure all....again.
Pesticide Action Network | Advancing alternatives to pesticides worldwide
PAN links local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens’ action network. This network ...

JL A (281)
Monday December 31, 2012, 5:56 pm
You are welcome Diane. that sounds fun BG

JL A (281)
Monday December 31, 2012, 6:30 pm
Thanks for the extra history and resource John.

Sergio P (65)
Tuesday January 1, 2013, 10:54 am

JL A (281)
Tuesday January 1, 2013, 11:59 am
You are welcome Sergio

Melania P (122)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 4:09 pm
Thank you for posting

JL A (281)
Sunday January 6, 2013, 3:05 pm
You're welcome Melania

Klaus Peters (14)
Wednesday January 9, 2013, 7:15 am
So much for Monsanto and GM seeds, what a joke.
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