Wake-up Call: Roundup Weed Killer Leads to Tenacious New Superweeds

Posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 at 5:11 pm by dpacheco

Shocker of shockers: Roundup Weed Killer and Roundup Ready genetically-engineered plants are actually bad for agriculture.

Roundup-resistant superweeds are beginning to give farmers a hard time. Farmers who have traditionally relied on Roundup as a miracle cure-all are having to go back to more labor-intensive weed-control methods and mixing new chemical pesticides in with the old stuff that’s no longer as effective. So why use the Roundup at all? ask farmers. Why, indeed?

From the New York Times:

DYERSBURG, Tenn. — For 15 years, Eddie Anderson, a farmer, has been a strict adherent of no-till agriculture, an environmentally friendly technique that all but eliminates plowing to curb erosion and the harmful runoff of fertilizers and pesticides.

But not this year.

On a recent afternoon here, Mr. Anderson watched as tractors crisscrossed a rolling field — plowing and mixing herbicides into the soil to kill weeds where soybeans will soon be planted.

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.”

Farm experts say that such efforts could lead to higher food prices, lower crop yields, rising farm costs and more pollution of land and water.

“It is the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,” said Andrew Wargo III, the president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.

Read the whole article here.

 
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