Superweeds

Here in Colorado this isn’t as big an issue as in warmer, wetter climes.

The original article.

“Superweeds” are plaguing high-tech Monsanto crops in southern US states, driving farmers to use more herbicides, return to conventional crops or even abandon their farms.

The whole thing has to do with GM seeds of Roundup resistant crops. But the pigweed (Amaranth palmeri) has evolved to resist Roundup weed killer along with some other weeds. Interestingly, it is edible with flour being made from the seeds (available at Whole Foods) and the leaves make good greens.

It is kinda plain. I have seen some growing in Canon City, along ditches.

The perfect weed

Had Monsanto wanted to design a deadlier weed, they probably could not have done better. Resistant pigweed is the most feared superweed, alongside horseweed, ragweed and waterhemp.

“Palmer pigweed is the one pest you don’t want, it is so dominating,” says Culpepper. Pigweed can produce 10,000 seeds at a time, is drought-resistant, and has very diverse genetics. It can grow to three metres high and easily smother young cotton plants.

Today, farmers are struggling to find an effective herbicide they can safely use over cotton plants.

According to the UK-based Soil Association, which campaigns for and certifies organic food, Monsanto was well aware of the risk of superweeds as early as 2001 and took out a patent on mixtures of glyphosate and herbicide targeting glyphosate-resistant weeds.

“The patent will enable the company to profit from a problem that its products had created in the first place,” says a 2002 Soil Association report.

The Conclusion

In the face of the weed explosion in cotton and soybean crops, some farmers are even considering moving back to non-GM seeds. “It’s good for us to go back, people have overdone the Roundup seeds,” Alan Rowland, a soybean seed producer based in Dudley, Missouri, told FRANCE 24. He used to sell 80% Monsanto “Roundup Ready” soybeans and now has gone back to traditional crops, in a market overwhelmingly dominated by Monsanto.

According to a number of agricultural specialists, farmers are considering moving back to conventional crops. But it’s all down to economics, they say. GM crops are becoming expensive, growers say.

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