Superweeds Are Winning The Battle Against Farmers

gmo crops

Superweeds will now face a stronger chemical pesticide in an effort to curtail the ongoing problem of the massive, difficult to kill, and unwanted growth. The EPA recently approved a new chemical pesticide, against the objections of many environmentalists and organic farmers. Enlist Duo is a mix of glyphosate and an herbicide called 2,4-D and was created by Dow AgroScience.

Farmers who use Enlist Duo will effectively be doubling the amount of chemicals poured onto the land and carried via wind, rain, birds, and bees, onto crops and into the water supply.

Pigweeds or superweeds, can easily grow up to seven feet tall very quickly and produce more than a half a million seeds per plant. The superweeds have successfully invaded corn and soybean fields in the Midwest and cotton fields in the south. The Palmer amaranth pigweed can reportedly grow up to 10 feet tall at an inch per day rate and possesses stems thick enough to damage agriculture equipment.

Pigweeds - superweeds invade farms.

Superweeds, possibly caused by genetically modified plants and glyphosate chemical pesticides, are a growing problem, according to agriculture experts, with huge weeds becoming more prevalent in pastures and fields around the globe. Increased exposure to chemical pesticides and to herbicide-resistant (genetically modified) crops is being blamed for the growth of the superweeds by many organic farmers and environmental groups.

“They’re winning the fight, they’re winning the battle,” University of Illinois crop science professor Aaron Hager said. “They’re evolving faster, better to survive in the environment than we’re coming up with solutions, at least chemical solutions, to control them.”

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. Monsanto also makes the seeds, and they are dubbed “Roundup Ready.”

The most EPA recent data shows that the most commonly used active ingredient in herbicides is glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. Farmers reportedly used approximately 180 to 185 million pounds of the chemical herbicide on their crops in the U.S. in 2007 alone.

Weed management professionals are reportedly growing more concerned about the superweeds problem and seeking new ways to combat the issue. Some farmers are going back to the old-fashioned method of hand weed pulling or expensive mechanical tilling practice to combat weeds without using chemical herbicide.

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.

What do you think about superweeds, GMO crops, and the new Enlist Duo chemical herbicide?

[Images via: Fool.com and The Daily Telegraph]