Ministry of Controversy

Well, That’s a Big Surprise.

So. Farmers are dealing with bigger, badder, more aggressive weeds that are resistant to Round-Up.  A situation that sorta blows the whole rationale for buying genetically modified corn and soybean seed manufactured to be Round-Up resistant, thereby allowing famers to spray herbicides liberally across the fields.

Between that and the recent price hikes on that very corn and soybean seed, it's starting to look like maybe getting into bed with Big Chem wasn't such a good idea, huh?

via the NYT.

Posted by on May 5, 2010 at 5:00 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.
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20 responses to “Well, That’s a Big Surprise.”

  1. Tara Dillard says:

    AND how quickly will those RoundUp resistant weeds spread to our gardens? How quickly will they breed and pass along their resistance to other weeds?

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  2. Jh says:

    A good amount of herbicide problems are due to misuse of the recommended rate. Farmers try to cut corners to save money and spray a lower amount of round-up, only injuring the plant, allowing for it to recover. This allows for the plant to become more tolerant.

  3. Marfy Goodspeed says:

    If you want to know more about how the plants figured out how to outsmart us, read Carl Zimmer’s explanation on The Loom: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2010/05/04/how-to-make-a-superweed/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Loom+%28The+Loom%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

  4. Li'l Ned says:

    I read about this in my local newspaper yesterday. All I can say is …….. DUH! Didn’t anyone pay attention, 30 years ago, when the same thing started happening with pesticides? How about antibiotics? Doesn’t anybody pay attention? (we know the chem guys do — they just don’t care about anything except raking in the dough).

    Back in the ’70’s we had a saying, ‘It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature’.

  5. I had the same reaction…duh…and what really concerns me is that in the same article, it talks about Monsanto et al developing new herbicides for new GMO strains. Um, hello? Same shit, different day…

  6. Peter Hoh says:

    But really, this time, it will be different.

  7. Tibs says:

    Hand weed. Think how many jobs we would create! Penny a weed. Like I used to get paid by my elderly neighbors as a kid for each dandilion I dug out. If I didn’t get the full roots I didn’g get my penny. My back is hurting just thinking about pulling weeds for a living.

  8. Katie says:

    LOL I was just WAITING for this to happen!

  9. sara says:

    What Tibs said. Ya gotta pull it up roots and all, before it sets seed, preferably a day after a good rain. For several seasons running. And that’ll put a dent into the weeds.

    I have RoundUp-wielding neighbors who don’t understand weeding at all, nor do they understand that spraying the weeds in the cracks in the sidewalk before it rains is folly given the proximity to the storm drain.

    If you don’t like the weeds, toss in other opportunistic seeds like California poppy or lupine and wait a couple seasons while you pull out the weeds and the intentional plants self-propagate.

  10. Laura Bell says:

    When I was a kid, my Dad was a soybean farmer. Rather than use chemicals, Mom, Dad & all nine kids would walk the fields pulling weeds, mostly cockleburs. I hated it back then, but see now it was Dad’s fight against the chemical companies. He lost that battle & eventually quit commercial farming – it was the 70’s & the age of “better living through chemistry” – but he’s proud now of his stand. And a bit smug watching the continuing developments in the “Farmers vs Big Chem” story.

  11. And what are the unintended consequences of our consuming all this Round-Up Ready product? Since those fields are sprayed more heavily with weed killer, will we eventually be able to spit or pee on a weed to kill it? Just askin’…

  12. Michelle says:

    I have posted my thoughts on this article over at my own blog, if anyone is interested. (And I have to say I’m surprised to find myself siding with Monsanto for once.) http://thecluelessgardeners.blogspot.com/2010/05/superweeds.html

  13. If RR crops weren’t created farmers would have used a lot LESS roundup than they do now, which would possibly have extended the usefulness of it. It’s the overuse that has caused this problem. Conventional crops can’t be sprayed with it, so it wouldn’t have been used as often as it is today.
    It’s the same with antibiotics. If we had only stuck to using them for serious diseases the usefulness of them would have lasted a lot longer. Instead the overuse of them by constantly feeding them to livestock, prescribing them for colds and non-life threatening problems such as acne has made more and more bacteria resistant to them.

    The result will be the same in both cases. We will have to develop stronger, possibly much more dangerous/toxic antibiotics/herbicides to combat the problem.

  14. Michelle says:

    Dog Island, if conventional crops can’t be sprayed with glyphosate, then glyphosate-resistant weeds don’t pose any new threat to conventional crops. They only threaten the “roundup ready crops”. Am I missing something?

  15. JTG says:

    You’re not missing anything Michelle, just that these plowed-under poisons will prevent anything but a Monsanto product from growing on that patch of ground for a number of years, i.e, a market share land grab.

  16. Michelle says:

    Ah, thanks JTG, that hadn’t occured to me.

  17. gremlin says:

    I’m pretty sure that if our populace was willing and able to pay the actual price of what it costs to grow enough food to feed it without the chemicals, farmers would absolutely be willing to do without the chemicals.

  18. JH says:

    I am all for safe use of chemicals honestly. Lets be realistic though…you talk about Round up as a poison which is grossly wrong. Glyphosate (roundups active ingr.) binds with soil particles and becomes inactive on contact. This is a major reason why it was isolated for such heavy use. Granted, round up resistant weeds are a deep concern but seasonal rotation of crops that are not RR is a solid practice to use as a farmer.

    Another point on the poison front is please look up the LD50’s (lethal dose) of glyphosate compared to commonly used items you may consume everyday. Especially salt and caffeine which have LD50’s of 3000 mg/kg and 192 mg/kg respectively compared to 5600 mg/kg for round up. 2,4-d has a LD50 as low as 375…def seems to me that round up is safer weed control.

    It is easy to wax poetic about walking fields and penny per weed but that is not an option in order to produce our food. With bio-tech and chemicals we can produce food more efficiently than in the 70’s in order to feed drastically more people. I love safe food and healthy humans and animals but lets look realistically at some issues.

  19. Jenn says:

    Surprise surprise.

    As in medicine, we are going to find in agriculture, less is more.

    The Norway Solution.

  20. Round up is a strange thing to be concerned with my friends tell me. I don’t use the stuff but most of my gardening is done in a greenhouse. I have friends who over use the stuff if you ask me.

    I guess you gotta do what you gotta do to keep your plants alive and those weeds out.

    It is of course expected for some plants to survive and therefore create a more round up resistant plant the next season. We should know by now that nature has a way of going around whatever we do if it hinders nature. The problem is when the plants become genetically manipulated by us or the chemicals that we use they become stronger.

    There is no telling what we will end up with in 20-30 years. The idea that we are making stronger weeds sure defeats the original intent doesn’t it?

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