Superweeds are becoming an increasing problem for farmers and prompting biotech manufacturers to create even stronger products to combat the problem. Enhanced exposure to chemical pesticides and to herbicide-resistant (genetically modified) crops is being blamed for the growth of the superweeds, says Natural News. One weed, the Palmer amaranth pigweed, reportedly can grow 10 feet tall at an inch per day rate and possesses stems thick enough to damage agriculture equipment.
Superweeds possibly caused by gentically modified plants and glyphosate chemical pesticides are a growing problem, according to agriculture experts, with huge weeds becoming more prevalent in pastures and fields around the globe.
Superweeds have become so prominent that the subject became a primary topic during a recent American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition, the largest science and industry society in the world. Some agriculture professionals note that the costs associated with battling weeds has doubled, and in some instances tripled, in recent years. During that same time span, crop yields have allegedly experienced significant declines.
Some farmers are going back to the old-fashioned method of hand weed pulling or expensive mechanical tilling practice to rid their fields of weeds without using chemical herbicide. For the past 15 years, many farmers have used GMO seeds that are genetically modified to be resistant to Roundup, a popular Monsanto chemical herbicide. Monsanto also makes the seeds, and they are dubbed “Roundup Ready.”
“The problems associated with herbicide-resistant weeds are spreading and intensifying, especially weed species resistant to multiple products, including the mainstay of 21st century agriculture, the herbicide glyphosate,” said Bryan Young, Southern Illinois University Plant Soil and Agricultural Systems professor. “More than 200 individual weeds species have been confirmed resistant to at least a single herbicide, with infestations covering millions of acres in the United States and 60 other countries.”
Weed management near corn crops, he said, has become even more difficult due to the use of Roundup Ready-style herbicide-resistant weeds. The superweeds are growing more quickly than the crops they surround, and in most cases, the unwanted farm inhabitants are also larger in size than the edible and money-generating crops. Corn, and other crops, are forced to compete with superweeds for soil nutrients and moisture can’t be killed even with multiple rounds of Roundup.
“The biotech industry is taking us into a more pesticide-dependent agriculture when they’ve always promised, and we need to be going in, the opposite direction,” Bill Freese of the Center for Food Safety said in during a 2010 report.
Although gardeners and farmers traditionally look at weeds as foes, Secret Garden of Survival author Rick Austin begs to differ:
“The war against weeds makes no sense,” Rick Austin said told Off The Grid News. “The ‘weeds are bad and gotta be pulled’ argument is just plain wrong. The truth of the matter is that weeds are nature’s way of taking soil that is depleted and without ingredients and micro-organisms. Nature hates a vacuum. In the natural course of things, weeds are the first thing to go into an area that has been devastated after a fire or clear-cutting, for example. Weeds live and thrive when no other plants will. A difficult bare patch of soil with an annual crop like corn, needs the benefits of the natural role weeds play.
Weeds are stronger and healthier, and try to take the crappy soil and turn it into something that other plants can use in the future. They break up soil that may be too hard or compact. They make the soil better and allow water to get into the ground. When people pull weeds, they are doing exactly the opposite of what they need to do to make the soil become more fertile. In permaculture, or a food forest, weeds are still flowering when everything else has gone. If you pull out the flowering weeds, then there is no reason for predatory wasps to show up. Pests are most attracted to crops without predators, like wasps nearby.”
The agribusiness industry is reportedly in the process of developing a new line of herbicides that will allegedly “sidestep” the resistance defenses of superweeds.
How do you feel about GMO crops and the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides?