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October 7, 2009

The Superweeds are Winning and Monsanto Blames Farmers
Tom Philpott has been tracking the rise of so-called "superweeds" -- i.e. herbicide-resistant weeds -- for a while now. He's talked about the chemical treadmill -- "the situation wherein weeds and other pests develop resistance to poisons, demanding ever higher doses of old poisons and constant development of novel ones."

Due in part to its reliance on genetically modified crops that are designed to be doused with Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, the South has to date faced the worst of this problem. And the struggle against these new superweeds, in particular against a new resistant form of pig weed, got the attention of ABC's World News Tonight recently. It's a struggle, by the way, that cotton farmers down there are losing:

Across the South, there's a weed that man can no longer kill. It's called the pig weed, and for decades farmers controlled it by spraying their fields with herbicides.

"I've never seen anything that had this major an impact on our agriculture in a short period of time," said Ken Smith, a weed scientist at the University of Arkansas.

This past summer, Pace Hindsely of Coffee Creek Farms and other farmers started noticing the chemicals they routinely used were no longer working.

"The last three years it's really just exploded. There is no rhyme or reason as to how we can control it," Hindsely said. "I am worried about the future or what these fields will look like next year and the year after if we don't control this weed."

The weeds have adapted, and this year they're choking more than a million acres of cotton and soybeans.

And, really for the first time, it appears that nothing in industrial ag's chemical arsenal can stop them. Most striking, however, was the reaction by Monsanto to this rapidly spreading failure of its cash cow combo Roundup Ready seed and Roundup herbicide: It's all the farmers fault!!

...READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON GRIST.ORG

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