Imagine how much easier your summer would be if you could just spray your entire garden with Roundup every week. Even better: if the spraying would kill all the weeds, but somehow not kill your fruits and vegetables.
Now imagine how much easier farming would be if you could do the same thing.
That’s exactly how agriculture was revolutionized just a few years ago when the agribusiness giant Monsanto first introduced Roundup Ready–genetically modified crops designed to withstand repeated Roundup drenchings.
Just a little more than a decade later, about 90 percent of all soy grown in the U.S. comes from genetically modified Roundup Ready crops. (You can use that fun fact the next time someone suggests that soy is healthy for you.)
In addition to soy, about 70 percent of the U.S. corn and cotton crops are also Roundup Ready.
It could be years before we know what health repercussions we might face with the widespread consumption of these GM crops. But here’s what we know right now: Roundup Ready has backfired.
Pig in the garden
Nature always finds a way. And that includes weeds, which have a way of becoming superweeds when challenged by highly toxic herbicides.
For example, pigweed is one of several Roundup-resistant superweeds that now infest millions of acres in more than 20 states.
According to a New York Times report, pigweed can grow as much as three inches in a day, and can reach a height taller than the average man. Once established, it’s seriously stubborn. The weed is said to be so sturdy that it has actually damaged harvesting equipment!
Just two years ago, one weed specialist called an area of central Arkansas a “pigweed-infested hell.” That should have come as no surprise to anyone. According to Farm Press, weed scientists predicted Roundup Ready resistant superweeds years ago. But the lure of easy weed control and boosted profits was just too tempting.
The result: U.S. soybean, corn, and cotton crops are in serious danger. One expert told the Times, “It is the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen.”
Yeah…I’d say that’s pretty serious!
Meanwhile, desperate farmers are doing what they have to do to kill off the superweeds–they’re employing more workers to hack away at the intruders, while also using some very toxic herbicides. And as you might suspect, higher operating costs combined with lower crop yields will drive up food prices.
Looks like this might be the perfect year to start a backyard garden–weeded by hand, of course.
To Your Good Health,
“Farmers Cope with Roundup-Resistant Weeds” William Neuman and Andrew Pollack, New York Times, 5/3/10, nytimes.com
“Resistant Pigweed ‘Blowing Up’ in Mid-South” David Bennett, Farm Press, 7/30/08, deltafarmpress.com