Revenge of the Weeds

[18 Aug 2010 Ed. Note: Superweeds are discussed in detail at this report by Institute of Science in Society.]

By Robert C. Koehler

Today’s big news stories — the wars, the eco-disasters — all seem to have the same gaping hole in them. This hole is lack of awareness, and its thrum, once you begin to hear it, soon becomes deafening: We can’t go on like this.

We can’t keep playing conquering fool, arrogantly ordering the world to our liking by killing everything that doesn’t fit into it. We can’t keep throwing more of the same at our problems. We can’t keep fighting nature, or one another, and expect somehow to win in the end. We can’t keep buying time at an increasingly horrific price. Time is running out. And petroleum isn’t the only thing we’re addicted to.

“Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds,” the New York Times informed us several months ago.

“To fight them . . . farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides. . . .”

The Times goes no deeper into the matter than this, affecting more concern for Monsanto, the manufacturer both of Roundup and the genetically modified cotton, corn and soybean seeds that are resistant to it (and are now no longer must-buy products for frustrated farmers), than it shows concern or even curiosity about the environmental consequences of the practices it writes about, including monoculture — the devotion of vast tracts of land to single crops and completely at odds with the extraordinary complexity of natural ecosystems.

But time appears to be running out on monoculture and many other standard practices of agribusiness, just as it is on so many of the thoughtless ways the civilized world does business. One clue to this: When a problem arises, we fight back with more of the same, except in higher — more lethal — doses. Indeed, that impulse, to fight back, to turn everything into a war, rather than to study, ponder and revere our obstacles, is the ultimate manifestation of our unawareness.

Thus to eradicate the “superweeds” that have evolved in response to the widespread use of Roundup, other chemical companies are scrambling to develop alternative herbicides and genetically modified seeds that can resist them, including, the Times notes without irony, Dow Chemical Co., which hopes to market seeds resistant to 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange — the defoliant we used to ravage Vietnam between 1962 and 1971.

Yeah, we’re still at war, and not only in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We’re so hell-bent on maintaining our voracious consumption habits, that we’ll engage the services of the defense industry,” Firmin DeBrabander wrote recently, in an excellent essay published on Common Dreams. “We’ll use Agent Orange to fight off weeds and ensure the delivery of cheap corn to Frito-Lay, Coke and Kellogg’s. . . . All in the name of productivity, efficiency, convenience — profit.”

This all reads so much like a war story, it’s as though a template had been laid over the data, making it come out as another version of the Great American Myth: Once again, the valiant American little guy, in this case the noble farmer (and his ally Monsanto), takes on inscrutable evil, an herbicide-resistant form of pigweed that can grow three inches a day, reach heights of seven feet, choke out crops and wreck farm equipment. If we throw a little Agent Orange at it, we’re back in another era, fighting commie pigweed.

As I read the Times story, which seemed like a dispatch from the front (“In an attempt to kill the pest before it becomes that big . . .”), I couldn’t help but think about some words of Rupert Ross, who delves deeply into the Aboriginal worldview in his book Returning to the Teachings. The Lakota, he wrote, “had no language for insulting other orders of existence: ‘pest’ . . . ‘waste’ . . . ‘weed.’”

This starts to explain why we are the way we are, and how we’ve reached the zenith of our arrogance: Whether geopolitically, agriculturally or in the privacy of our relationship with ourselves, we come out fearful and fighting. (I will sometimes, for my own amazement, count the number of “wars” we’re waging: on drugs, terror, crime, cancer, illiteracy, ignorance . . . weeds, etc., ad infinitum).

Is there another way? Can we retire the myth that we’ve created, and that has created us, which depends for its sustenance upon a perpetual enemy and dozens, maybe hundreds, of fronts?

Our transition to peace will be as slow, complex and backlash-prone as our transition from monoculture to sustainable farming practices, such as the permaculture movement, which seeks to partner with nature, not use it up and throw it away.

“Permaculture’s sensible answer,” writes Mary DeDanan, “is for humans to ally themselves with nature instead of trying to control nature. . . . Permaculture insists on the whole picture, from soil microbes to global weather patterns. It takes advantage of every relationship and synergy. It uses local resources, or grows its own. It wastes nothing.”

Our transition begins with awareness, evidence of which I long to hear when I tune into the mainstream voices of my culture.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. You can respond to this column at or visit his Web site at

© 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

14 responses to “Revenge of the Weeds

  1. At least it ought to be obvious by now, whoever is ruling this planet is NOT HUMAN in any civil sense of the word.

  2. Pingback: I am new to organic gardening , here in the north I would like to put corn gluten for early weeds ,? | Small Garden Ideas

  3. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Revenge of the Weeds « Food Freedom

  4. Allison Sears

    Yes! We must find ways to educate people about Monsanto. I have gone to one site in England that really gets to the pont – PLUS shows that “more than 40 diseases” reported with the use of Monsantos pesticides – one MD: Dr Blaylock brought that up to 90 some odd! It is just way toooooo Much!

    Site: International Science in Society:

    It all has to do with Roundup – it is going into our soil, water and then returning into our bodies – through the food and through the water!

    One thought: What about the migrating birds? Are they flying hungry because of all of the GMO crops?

    Did you know that most zoos won’t feed their animals GMO food: …because the are so valuable (OK Zoo is one). Can we join the zoo?

    What about Spitzbergen Island, in the Artic – where ORGANIC SEEDS are being stored for the future, because the rich realize how important organic food is (smart, aren’t they). Plus few of them probably use Roundup!

    Then what about the memo for the FBI and CIA from the fed. government – not to eat any GMO CORN! (That is a good one)

    Beyond this: Right now we have to focus on our country! There is a bill still pending in the senate: S 510 The safety Food Modernization Act 2010 that will:

    * TAKE AWAY ALL SMALL FARMS AND RANCHES! Plus it will have the United Nations set up to “overview” our food supply – our land and everything that is grown onit!

    *Take away our right to grow our own food

    *We won’t be able to store or keep or have on our person: SEEDS!

    *All animals – cats, dogs, …whatever, will be chipped – or tagged and tracked from birth to death!

    *The FDA and Homeland Security will be in your face!


    What can we do – don’t worry about Hollywood – it will take care of itself, worry about contacting PEOPLE, or groups, organizations…where ever people go – TO EDUCATE. Not on the internet – but face to face…or by mail…what ever it takes to keep our great nation great!

    I say: go off the internet, because it is so easy to just click off, and go work to cleaning your car! PLUS – you are singing to the choir! – and they already know the words!
    WE ARE NOT POWERLESS OVER OUR DESTINY! We can make a difference – using the “Domino Effect”: one person at a time motivating another…and letting the process work.

    We can fight Monsanto!

    But, for right now we have to put that on the back burner – IT’S OUR COUNTRY WE NEED TO FIGHT FOR – To keep us a Democratic Nation and NOT A STATE OF THE UNITED NATIONS OR THE GLOBABLISTS!

    I am totally scared!


    So – we JUST MAY lose our country – our Democracy, and The Un can worry about the Roundup problem! Yikes!

    (Listen to Alex….!) A site that verified this: http://www.Farm-to-Consumer/Legal Defense Fund:
    http://WWW.ftc ldf.ORG/NEWS/NEWS-FOODSAFETY-Johnson.htm

    We just have to st this bill:S 510 The Food Safety Modernization Act 2010! We have to hold tough onto our country and our Natural Rights!
    Good Luck! Stay Healthy!

    About being healthy: Don’t Take Any Vaccination! None! Never! Ever!

    This site here is from Scientists, PhD Reasearchers: http://www.Koren, and at fantastic site that lists all of the ingredients in the flu shots: Prevent…The Article: “The Goal of every H1N1 Flu Vaccine: Immunotoxicity, Neurotoxicity, and Sterility……

    Lists the Vaccinations made by: GlaxoSmithKline…..the very company that made that deadly drug: AVANDIA!

    Life in America gets more and more interesting!

  5. Pingback: GMO Crop Sabotage on the Rise: French citizens destroy trial vineyard : Infowars Ireland

  6. Pingback: Mounting Opposition to GMO Crops: The World’s People Reject Genetic Pollution of Food and the Environment « The Truth About Our World…

  7. Pingback: Mounting Opposition to GMO Crops: The World’s People Reject Genetic Pollution of Food and the Environment « Bear Market News

  8. Pingback: Mounting Opposition to GMO Crops: The World’s People Reject Genetic Pollution of Food and the Environment | Truth Is Scary

  9. Pingback: The People of the World Reject Genetic Pollution « The Real Agenda

  10. Pingback: GMO Crop Sabotage On The Rise: French Citizens Destroy Trial Vineyard « Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

  11. Pingback: GMO Crop Sabotage On The Rise: French Citizens Destroy Trial Vineyard « Red Ant Liberation Army News

  12. Pingback: Mounting Opposition to GMO Crops: The World’s People Reject Genetic Pollution of Food and the Environment | The Total Collapse

  13. Which author do the Gorillas love most? Joh Steinbeck – who wrote ‘The Apes of Wrath! ‘

  14. Awesome blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any tips? Cheers!

What do YOU think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s