Monsanto is preparing to launch possibly its largest biotech project to date. The St. Louis-based company that produces the vast majority of seeds now available on the market is planning to produce “superweeds seeds.” As previously reported by the Inquisitr, superweeds are plaguing American farmers and causing crops to wither when dwarfed by the gigantic weeds.
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, which are dubbed “Roundup Ready.” Increased exposure to chemical pesticides and to herbicide-resistant or genetically modified (GMO) crops is being blamed for the growth of the superweeds, by many farmers and researchers.
One weed, the Palmer amaranth pigweed, reportedly can grow 10 feet tall at an inch per day rate and possesses stems thick enough to damage agriculture equipment. Superweeds possibly caused by gentically 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.
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 pulling weeds by hand or using expensive mechanical tilling to combat weeds without using a chemical herbicide.
To counter the superweeds problem, Monsanto is moving ahead with the of introduction of a new wave of GMO crops. Scientists have estimated that more than 400 different herbicide resistant weeds now exist worldwide. The superweeds compete with crops for nutrients and sunlight necessary for plant growth.
Monsanto has reportedly been working on two new cotton and soybean seed varieties that can withstand dicamba for about 10 years. Dicamba is an infrequently used herbicide that weeds have not caught up with yet.
“These new technologies will help farmers achieve better harvests, which will help meet the demand to nourish the growing population,” said Miriam Paris, Monsanto’s Xtend system launch manager.
Although superweeds may be kept at bay by the coating on Monsanto’s new soybean and cotton seeds now, many farmers, researchers, and environmentalists fear that may not be so in the near future. In the same manner that humans can become resistant to the impact of antibiotics over time due to repeated exposure to the medication, weeds can also learn to adapt and overcome the dicamba 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.
Do you think superweeds pose a threat to the food supply?
[Image via: Shutterstock.com]