By Charles Margulis
There’s been much recent news about Monsanto paying farmers to use its competitors’ herbicides, in what many see as a last ditch effort to address the spread of superweeds created by the company’s “Roundup Ready” (RR) GMO crops. Environmental scientists warned even before Monsanto’s “herbicide tolerant” GMO crops were approved that they would hasten the evolution of resistant weeds.
For these scientists, the issue was obvious: introduction of high doses of a single chemical year after year would result in the exact conditions needed to breed resistance: weeds with resistance genes would be the only weeds that could survive and breed, leading to superweeds that are unaffected even by massive herbicide spraying.
Of course, Monsanto denied these early warnings. In a 1997 paper, Monsanto scientists claimed that weed resistance was such a complex genetic phenomena that RR crops would be unlikely to lead to resistant weeds.
What’s even more troubling, though, is that Monsanto continued to ignore the spread of superweeds for years, and worked to persuade and threaten farmers against strategies to avoid resistance – since those strategies would have cut into the company’s sales of Roundup and RR crops.
For example, in a 2003 report, a Monsanto “Roundup technical manager” advised against crop rotation and warned farmers that using chemicals other than Roundup with RR crops would only add an unnecessary expense. Farmers have been growing Roundup Ready soy continuously for eight years, he said, without any resistance problems. Weeds were not resistant, he said, but were exhibiting “differential tolerance.”
Which means, he said, farmers should simply use more Roundup to kill resistant weeds, because “if it’s a dead weed, it won’t produce seed.”
Which is funny, because two years earlier, scientists in Delaware reported that ten times the recommended amount of Roundup was ineffective on a resistant weed strain (perhaps they should have tried 100 times the label amount).
Read full post at Generation Green