Super Weeds: Another Reason Why Organic Farming is the Solution
Just as the overuse of antibiotics have created super-bugs, bacteria resistant to scores of antibiotics, super-weeds have emerged due to the overuse of herbicides.
Specifically, the weeds are resistant to Roundup. Introduced in the 1970s, this weed killer was considered a God-send because it weaned conventional farmers off much more poisonous herbicides and reduced tilling that caused soil erosion.
But the weeds, like all living organisms competing for survival, have adapted. Now, they pose an environmental threat because conventional farmers, not knowing how to deal with the new species of herbicide resistant weeds, are returning to less environmentally safe practices abandoned decades ago! This move is supported by bio-tech scientists who are racing to produce bio-engineered crops designed to survive the more toxic herbicides.
As reported by David Mercer for the Associated Press, the rise and spread of super-weeds is worst in the south, and the problem is spreading quickly across the Corn Belt and beyond, with Roundup now proving unreliable in killing at least 10 weed species in at least 22 states. Some species, like Palmer amaranth in Arkansas and water hemp and Marestail in Illinois, grow fast and big, producing tens of thousands of seeds.
Monsanto, the company that created Roundup, not only created the weed-killer, but it also bio-engineered corn and soybeans that are resistant to Roundup, which allowed farmers to spray Roundup on emerging crops to wipe out the weeds growing alongside them. It is precisely this over-use of herbicide that has created the super-weed crisis at hand.
St. Louis-based Monsanto maintains that the resistance of weeds is often overstated, noting that most weeds show no sign of immunity to Roundup.
Despite Monsanto's insistence that super-weeds are not a problem, the company has started paying cotton farmers $12 an acre to cover the cost of other herbicides to use alongside Roundup to boost its effectiveness.Continued on the next page