Monsanto-spawned superweeds growing three inches daily, destroying farm equipment
by: Ethan A. Huff
Monday, August 01, 2011
The proliferation of superweeds — weeds that have mutated to develop resistance to popular herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup formula — continues to rise. But the individual plants’ overall size and strength is also increasing. According to a series of new studies published in the journal Weed Science, farmers are having more trouble than ever dealing with out-of-control superweeds in their fields, some of which grow up to three inches a day in size, and are so strong and thick that they are destroying farm equipment.
The studies reveal that there are currently at least 21 different weed species known to be resistant to Roundup, also known generically as glyphosate. These species include ragweed, pigweed, horseweed, waterhemp, and ryegrass. Since 2007, the total acreage of farmland known to be infested with superweeds has also jumped more than 450 percent, from 2.4 million acres to 11 million acres, which means that the problem is only going to get exponentially worse.
“Super-strains of plants like pigweed — which grows three inches a day and is tough enough to damage farm machinery — have emerged, which may dramatically reduce the options for farmers to control them,” writes Fast Company in a recent piece on the issue. “The alternatives are usually more dangerous chemicals or plowing and mulching fields, undermining many of the environmental benefits biotech crops are supposed to offer. It’s ‘the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,’ claims Andrew Wargo III, president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.”
And yet for years Monsanto has denied, at least in part, that Roundup is the cause of superweeds, alleging also that widespread concern about the issue is overblown. Though it now admits that Roundup may actually be culprit in spawning superweeds (you think?), Monsanto is trying to somehow spin the situation in a positive light. Back in 2010, for instance, a writer for Monsanto’s public relations blog actually claimed that using too little Roundup might be a cause of superweeds