Even pro-glyphosate scientists admit chemical-resistant 'superweeds' may destroy future of herbicides, GMOs

Sunday, August 25, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: chemical-resistant superweeds, glyphosate herbicide, GMOs

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(NaturalNews) There has been quite a bit of media coverage recently about the environmental threats of continued overuse of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, a glyphosate-based chemical solution that continues to be liberally sprayed on tens of millions of acres of genetically-modified (GM) soybeans, corn, cotton, and other conventional crops grown in North and South America. But, as has even been admitted by pro-glyphosate scientists, the system cannot go on forever in this way, as Roundup-resistant "superweeds" continue to emerge and spread at an alarming rate, threatening to destroy the entire GMO crop system.

A 2008 study published in the journal, Pest Management Science, let the cat out of the bag when it described a whole slew of different chemical-resistant superweeds that are already popping up across the U.S., where glyphosate is most heavily used. According to this report, rapid adoption of Roundup-Ready crops by many American farmers back in the 1990s has led to a corresponding rapid manifestation of superweeds, which now plague millions of acres of conventional crop land, not to mention roadsides, wilderness, and other areas where their seeds have spread.

"[I]n regions of the USA where transgenic glyphosate-resistant crops dominate, there are now evolved glyphosate-resistant populations of the economically damaging weed species Ambrosia artemissifolia L., Ambrosia trifida L., Amaranthus palmeri S Watson, Amaranthus rudis JD Sauer, Amaranthus tuberculatus (Moq) JD Sauer and various Conyza and Lolium spp," explain the authors. "Likewise, in areas of transgenic glyphosate-resistant crops in Argentina and Brazil, there are now evolved glyphosate-resistant populations of sorghum helapense (L.) Pers and Euphorbia heterophylla L. respectively."

Chemical-industry scientists saw writing on wall years before superweed epidemic took hold

Remember, these warnings were issued a full five years ago -- since the time of their publishing, newer reports have found that at least half of all U.S. farms are now infested with superweeds, and this percentage is growing daily. According to a report by Tom Philpott that was published in Mother Jones, superweed presence increased by nearly 50 percent in just one year, jumping from 34 percent of farms in 2011 to 49 percent of farms in 2012. And in the southern U.S., as many as 92 percent of farmers now report the presence of superweeds on their farms.

"The problem is accelerating, because the resistant weeds are driving out their non-resistant counterparts, and also cross-pollinating them with the resistant gene, spreading it far and wide," wrote Philpott in another article about the same issue.

As it turns out, the authors of the earlier 2008 study were right -- superweeds are continuing to evolve and spread, and this phenomenon threatens not only to destroy the entire GMO crop industry, but also to unleash a whole new generation of mutant superweeds capable of destroying even non-GMO and organic agriculture. The more that farmers continue to use herbicides as a primary weapon of defense against pests and weeds, in other words, the more these pests and weeds are going to adapt and become stronger, to the point that they can no longer be controlled at all.

"As transgenic glyphosate-resistant crops will remain very popular with producers, it is anticipated that glyphosate-resistant biotypes of other prominent weed species will evolve over the next few years," predicted the authors. "Therefore, evolved glyphosate-resistant weeds are a major risk for the continued success of glyphosate and transgenic glyphosate-resistant crops."

A major risk, indeed.

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