What do you see when you look into your garden right now? Probably a bunch of dead plants, cold soil, and a few scraggly weeds that are trying to survive the cold, right? Well, sitting quietly in your soil right now are microbes, hibernating bugs, and weed seeds that are just waiting for the soil to warm up and the sun to come out so they can start taking over your garden again. Life is amazingly resistant to extremes of temperature, drought, and even chemicals. It learns to survive and thrive through a process of genetic mutation…the weak will perish and the strong will survive to grow another day. What happens when genetic mutation allows an organism to thrive in an otherwise harsh environment? The organism then passes that strength on to it’s offspring and a new generation is created. One that is significantly stronger than previous generations. This can be good or bad, depending on the genetic mutation involved. Sometimes you are left with a drought tolerant tomato plant (yay!) or an herbicide resistant weed!
Superweeds: A Farmer’s Nightmare!
As farmers become more and more dependent on herbicides to control weed growth in their fields, pesticide resistant weeds are becoming a serious problem. Agricultural giant Monsanto developed a powerful herbicide several years ago called Roundup. They then created Roundup resistant crop seeds. This combination of powerful herbicide and a Roundup resistant seed crop allowed farmers to grow their crops without any concern for how much weed killer they dumped onto their fields. The desired crop continued to thrive and the weeds were easily killed off.
But, as I discussed above…it is hard to keep an organism from reproducing. Roundup resistant gene mutations took off, resulting in numerous ‘Superweeds’ that are now thriving in farmer’s fields. And they aren’t content to stay their, either. Wind, rain, and animal life are spreading the seeds of these superweeds far and wide, including right into your garden’s soil. These superweeds aren’t just Roundup resistant, the plants’ overall size and strength is also increasing.
Think About This: According to an article published in the journal Weed Science, farmers are having more trouble than ever dealing with out-of-control superweeds in their fields, some of which grow up to three inches a day! There are currently at least 21 different weed species that are now Roundup Resistant. What can farmers do to control the weeds and help their crops thrive? Are even stronger chemicals the only answer?
What is Monsanto’s opinion on all this? According to the Pesticide Action Network, Monsanto blames farmers for the overuse of Roundup, and recommends mixing it with older herbicides like 2-4,D — one of the active ingredients in Agent Orange.
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Want to know what else Monsanto has been up to lately? Check out the Monsanto Files for a disturbing and eye opening collection of articles.
Remember, the weeds in your garden may be dormant this month but they are just waiting for a little bit of sun, rain and warmth before they wake up again. And they are just one genetic mutation away from becoming a superweed! Start thinking now about how you plan to control those weeds this spring. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.