‘Superweeds’ Invade Arkansas And Iowa

Superweeds have invaded Arkansas and Iowa. Tommy Young, a grower in the southern region of the state, said the weeds are not stopped by chemical herbicides and have grown as tall as an NBA basketball player.

Superweeds, or the Palmer amaranth, has been plaguing farmers in five Iowa counties, choking the growth of crops and causing price increases for consumers. Agricultural industry experts note that the Palmer amaranth week can steal approximately two-thirds of soybean and corn yields annually, according to a Des Moines Register report. The crop lost represents approximately $11 billion worth of corn and soybean receipts. One quarter of the gross domestic product in Iowa is tied to farming. The agriculture industry contributed $166 billion to the state economy on an annual basis.

Genetically modified plants and glyphosate chemical pesticides are a growing problem for the American farmer. For the past 15 years, many farmers have used GMO seeds that are genetically modified to be resistant to Roundup, a popular Monsanto chemical herbicide. Massive weeds are becoming more prevalent in pastures and fields around the globe.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the increased exposure to chemical pesticides and to herbicide-resistant crops is being blamed for the growth of the superweeds, Natural News reports. The Palmer amaranth pigweed can grow 10 feet tall at an inch-per-day rate, with stems thick enough to damage agriculture equipment.

Superweeds have become so prominent that the subject became a primary topic during a recent American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition, the largest science and industry society in the world. Some agriculture professionals note that the costs associated with battling weeds has doubled, and in some instances tripled, in recent years. During that same time span, crop yields have allegedly experienced significant declines.

“Increased herbicide use on the new engineered crops will speed up weed resistance, leaving no viable herbicide alternatives,” Center for Food Safety senior scientists Doug Gurian-Sherman said. Farmers are now reportedly turning to even more stringent chemical herbicides to kill the weeds when products full of glyphosate like Monsanto’s Roundup Ready no longer work.

Chemical herbicides like DuPont’s 2,4-D laced products are now reportedly being poured on the superweeds with greater frequency. The 2,4-D chemical reportedly contains many of the same ingredients as Agent Orange. An uptick in tilling has also caused alarm for environmentalists. The tilling process has aided many farmers battling superweeds, but is believed to increase soil erosion and cause run-off into rivers, creeks, and streams. According to farmer Young, Iowa farmers should be very afraid in relation to the impact superweeds will have on their future. Young had been tilling his 7,000 acres to thwart the huge weeds, but has since stopped because the process and crop rotation are no longer working.

Tommy Young also had this to say about fighting a losing battle against superweeds:

“I’m sitting in a sprayer that cost over $350,000. It’s got a computer system that lets me tell you precisely what herbicide I sprayed, how many ounces I sprayed, the wind direction and the speed, the field I was in, the humidity. I’ve got all this fantastic technology, but nothing to pour in my tank. I’m using the same chemicals I used when I was 14.”

Young wants government regulators to green light new chemical herbicide products from Monsanto and Dow to kill the weed, but many experts agree such an approach will not bring forth a cure. Weed management near corn crops has become even more difficult due to the use of Roundup Ready-style herbicide-resistant weeds. The superweeds are growing more quickly than the crops they surround, and in most cases, the unwanted farm inhabitants are also larger in size than the edible and money-generating crops. The seeds and plants are forced to compete with superweeds for soil nutrients and moisture can’t be killed even with multiple rounds of Roundup.

The agribusiness industry is reportedly in the process of developing a new line of herbicides that will allegedly “sidestep” the resistance defenses of superweeds. “The biotech industry is taking us into a more pesticide-dependent agriculture when they’ve always promised, and we need to be going in, the opposite direction,” Bill Freese of the Center for Food Safety said in 2010.

In the South, farmers have plowed under thousands of acres of farmland during attempts to kill the Palmer amaranth.

What do you think about GMO crops, chemical herbicides, and the battle against superweeds?

[Image Via: Fieldblog]