It turns out that what Montsanto thought was a win-win, it use of genes to create Roundup resistant crops, allowing it to make money on both the crops, and on the increased sales of its popular herbicide has had a not-unexpected side effect.
It seems that with Roundup Ready® ready crops, farmers soak their fields in the herbicide, and so now we are seeing an explosion of herbicide resistant weeds:“Superweeds” are plaguing high-tech Monsanto crops in southern US states, driving farmers to use more herbicides, return to conventional crops or even abandon their farms.
How has this happened? Farmers over-relied on Monsanto’s revolutionary and controversial combination of a single “round up” herbicide and a high-tech seed with a built-in resistance to glyphosate, scientists say.
Today, 100,000 acres in Georgia are severely infested with pigweed and 29 counties have now confirmed resistance to glyphosate, according to weed specialist Stanley Culpepper from the University of Georgia.
“Farmers are taking this threat very seriously. It took us two years to make them understand how serious it was. But once they understood, they started taking a very aggressive approach to the weed,” Culpepper told FRANCE 24.
“Just to illustrate how aggressive we are, last year we hand-weeded 45% of our severely infested fields,” said Culpepper, adding that the fight involved “spending a lot of money.”
In 2007, 10,000 acres of land were abandoned in Macon country, the epicentre of the superweed explosion, North Carolina State University’s Alan York told local media.
Imagine that. It’s so bad, that farmers are abandoning land.
The problem here is that the rulings changing the patent laws over the past few decades, which allow the patenting of genes and species, have made the seed business so lucrative that companies like Monsanto are inclined to skip appropriate testing in the rush to market.
The solution is, in addition to stricter regulation, is to remove the IP protections to genes and species, which will remove much of the incentive to cheat.