Monday, May 3, 2010

Unintended Consequences

Back in my previous life I worked on some agriculture issues. Though no longer paying daily attention to issues facing the farmers of America, I do check into them from day to day. One great advancement in farming over the last 20 years is the rise of Roundup Ready GM crops. With Roundup Ready corn or soybeans or cotton farmers could plant the crop, spray with Roundup, and not worry about weeds. This saved the farmers time and was better for the environment. Of course, the weeds aren't just dying, but growing, and now we have the rise of "superweeds."
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.
To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.
“We’re back to where we were 20 years ago,” said Mr. Anderson, who will plow about one-third of his 3,000 acres of soybean fields this spring, more than he has in years. “We’re trying to find out what works.”
Not good.

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