Nearly half of U.S. farms report having “super weeds”
A new studyfinds that 49-percent of all US farmers surveyed said they had glyphosate resistant weeds on their farm in 2012. Glyphosate is the weed killer best known as the Monsanto product “Roundup.”
More than 70-percent of all corn, soy, and cotton grown in the U.S. is now “Roundup Ready.” That means the seeds are genetically modified to survive a spraying of Roundup. In the mid 1990s, the early days of Roundup Ready seeds, it seemed to work really well for farmers.
They no longer needed to carefully apply herbicides only to the weeds; they could just spray the whole field. The Roundup would kill the weeds, but corn was “Ready,” it was resistant to the chemical, and survived.
In 2006, I walked through a Roundup Ready soybean field near Columbus, Ohio that was covered with giant ragweed. The farmer was at wits end. Weed scientists said the glyphosate was no longer working in his field, and the ragweed was taking over. There wasn’t going to much of a soybean crop that year.
This new study by Stratus Agri-Marketing shows that 61.2 million acres of U.S. farmland infested with glyphosate resistant weeds in 2012. That’s nearly twice as many as 2010. (See Stratus graph.)
Graph: Stratus Agri-Marketing
The study also shows a greater variety of weeds are becoming resistant to glyphosate, and that these so-called “super weeds” are spreading geographically.
The biggest problems are in the South, with the mid-south and mid-west states catching up. This may not be an issue in Northern New York at this point, but as more farmers get into commodity farming, this study is a warning that even a revolutionary seed technology like the Roundup Ready system has its limits, and should be used carefully.
Tags: agriculture, commodity, environment, farming, GM crops, Roundup Ready, weeds