As powerful as Roundup is in killing weeds and anything living, a pesky problem has evolved over the years. Glyphosate-resistant weeds have developed despite assurances from Monsanto that this would never happen. Farmers were misled and sold a bill of goods. They were told they could just plant Monsanto Roundup Ready GMO crops year after year, spray them directly with Roundup herbicide which would kill all the weeds, and then sit back, relax, and tally up their profits. But they are now caught in a vicious chemical cycle. As they sprayed more and more glyphosate to kill the weeds, the weeds became more resistant.
By 2016, more than 70 million acres are infested with superweeds that don’t respond to Roundup. Palmer amaranth can grow 8 feet tall with a stem so tough it can damage farm machinery. Water hemp can grow to 12 feet and each weed generates more than 250,000 seeds which hide in the soil and ruin a farmer’s production dreams. The southeastern United States has been hit hardest with more than 90 percent of cotton and soybean fields infested. Farmers are having to pay laborers to weed by hand to remove these pesky superweeds as there is no other way to eliminate them without damaging the crop.
Before GMO crops were introduced in the 1990s, farmers rotated the types of crops they planted from season to season and year to year. Alternating corn with wheat, soy, oats, or alfalfa was a time-honored method to maintain the health of the soil and naturally reduce insect pests and weed development. Row crops like corn bring higher profit but deplete the soil of nutrients. Legumes like alfalfa and clover store nitrogen in their root systems. They then break down after harvest and help fertilize and restore soil health. They also help the soil absorb moisture better. Cereals like oats have a dense root system that feeds the soil organic matter. Sunflowers, sorghum and canola are also key plants in healthy crop rotations. The evolution of small family farms into larger corporate operations, the reliance on synthetic fertilizer, and the introduction of GMO crops resulted in the destruction of natural farming in favor of chemical farming. But the price will have to be paid. The healthy choice is organic farming. Chemical sterilization of the soil will only lead to malnutrition and starvation in the end.
Unfortunately, many farmers have resorted to using older chemicals Roundup was supposed to eliminate. In addition, Monsanto is adjusting their formula for Roundup to include additional chemicals like 2,4-D which was the infamous ingredient used as a defoliant and known as Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already agreed to allow 40 times more 2,4-D into the American diet than was previously permitted so that Monsanto can chemically fight glyphosate-resistant weeds. Monsanto’s new Roundup Ready Xtend system will tie glyphosate with the chemical dicamba which has been associated with lung and colon cancer, birth defects and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The untold story is Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops have created an environmental disaster. Millions of acres of farmland are now infested with glyphosate-resistant weeds resulting in an enormous increase in herbicide/pesticide use. To read more about this, see Whitewash by Carey Gillam and my book.
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