Superweeds are a new reality for N. American farmers. Weeds capable of resisting the herbicide glyphosate are sprouting in all the wrong places after years of inadvertent selection by farmers depending on chemicals to keep weeds down. Since the ‘70s when Roundup was introduced, farmers and homeowners alike have used the liquid to kill plants that they didn’t like.
Mother Nature has surprises for the unwary. What seemed like a quick, cost effective solution to elimination of weeds in soy and corn fields has turned out superweeds instead. Iowa is finding more and more Palmer amaranth(pig weed) infestations. This weed is capable of putting out half a million seeds for each plant. And it’s only one of a plethora of superweeds washing back over croplands that have been sprayed with glyphosate
Glyphosate(Roundup Ready) resistant crops are genetically modified(GM) to not die when sprayed with the chemical.
Palmer pigweeds can produce up to half a million seeds per plant. And they are easily carried by water, wind, tillage tools, combines; even on your clothes,” Steinkamp says. In Michigan, where the weed was first detected in 2010, the tiny seeds were probably transported in cottonseed fed to dairy cattle and spread to fields in the manure. Corn and Bean Digest
The superweeds compete with the corn and soy crops reducing the yield by as much as 90%. At stake is billions of dollars in agricultural sales.
As European nations and the UK are pondering the spread of herbicide resistant crops, the very real spectre of superweeds should give them pause.
Superweeds Found in N.America (incomplete list)
· Giant ragweed
· Rigid ryegrass
· Hairy fleabane
· Johnson grass
· Coca (yes, that coca plant)
The New York Times reported that in 1996, "Dennis C. Vacco, the Attorney General of New York, ordered the company to pull ads that said Roundup was "safer than table salt" and "practically nontoxic" to mammals, birds and fish. The company withdrew the spots, but also said that the phrase in question was permissible under E.P.A. guidelines." Wikipedia