Are superweeds going to kill Monsanto?
After the Killer Tomatoes, now come Superweeds. As a matter of fact, it appears that pollen from genetically modified plants are spreading to the "poor cousins" of the plants being modified, the lowly weeds which were at the origin of all modern agriculture and which have been transformed into productive plants by patient selection and cross-breeding over thousands of years.
In a recent article in The Independent, we learn that, far from diminishing the use of agricultural poisons, GM crops actually need more herbicides than conventional crops.
"....bigger quantities of weedkillers - not less, as the biotechnology companies have claimed - will be needed in GM-crop fields, adding to the already intensive agriculture that has wiped out much of Britain's farmland wildlife in the past four decades. Monsanto, the GM market leader, confirmed to The Independent at the weekend that its solution for dealing with resistant weeds was to apply different weedkillers in new ways."
'Superweeds' signal setback for GM crops
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
23 June 2003
The dispute over genetically modified crops will intensify today with news of the evolution of "superweeds", which are resistant to the powerful weedkillers that GM crops were engineered to tolerate.
The development, which comes as the sacked former environment minister Michael Meacher puts himself at the head of the anti-GM campaign, will be seized on by opponents of the technology as undermining its rationale.
It means that bigger quantities of weedkillers - not less, as the biotechnology companies have claimed - will be needed in GM-crop fields, adding to the already intensive agriculture that has wiped out much of Britain's farmland wildlife in the past four decades. Monsanto, the GM market leader, confirmed to The Independent at the weekend that its solution for dealing with resistant weeds was to apply different weedkillers in new ways.
In yesterday's Independent on Sunday, Mr Meacher accused Tony Blair, a GM supporter, of seeking to bury health warnings about GM produce by "rushing to desired conclusions which cannot be scientifically supported".
The revelations about superweeds have been communicated to the Government by an American academic specialising in weed control, who has posted a paper on the website of the official GM science review, led by Professor David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser. This will report soon in advance of a long-delayed decision, due this autumn, on whether GM crops should be commercialised in Britain.
The paper, by Professor Bob Hartzler of the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University, reveals that in the past seven years, up to five weed species have been found with resistance to the herbicide glyphosate, best known by the Monsanto trade name Roundup. The resistance has come about not through gene transfer from GM herbicide-tolerant crops, as some have feared, but through natural evolution.
Glyphosate is a "broad spectrum" herbicide, meaning that, originally, it killed everything, including crops. GM crops were developed to be tolerant of the herbicide, so it could be applied throughout the growing season.
Two GM crops proposed for commercial growth in Britain, fodder beet and sugar beet, are glyphosate-tolerant. But weeds have been found in Australia, Chile, Malaysia and California and other areas of the US, that glyphosate cannot kill.
Greg Elmore, Monsanto's US technical manager for soybeans, said Monsanto was taking seriously the question of glyphosate resistance, tackling it with "weed control management practices".
With soybeans, he said, resistant weeds were controlled with a pre-planting "burn-down" (which kills everything), using 2,4-D, another weedkiller.
At least three of the resistant weeds had evolved where glyphosate was being used with non-GM crops, he said, adding that it was far from the only weedkiller for which weeds had evolved resistance - as many as 70 weeds were resistant to some weedkillers.
Pete Riley, Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner, said: "Companies like Monsanto have spun GM crops and their weedkillers as having less impact on the environment, but the fact of resistant weeds undoubtedly means more weedkillers, and means the impact on the environment will be greater.
"These discoveries remove a central plank from the whole argument for GM crops."
Yesterday, Mr Meacher listed a series of reports and findings suggesting that the full impact of GM technology was still dangerously unpredictable. Many of the health tests carried out were "scientifically vacuous", he said.
GM crops created superweed, say scientists
Monday July 25, 2005 - The Guardian
The cross-fertilisation between GM oilseed rape, a brassica, and a distantly related plant, charlock, had been discounted as virtually impossible by scientists with the environment
department. It was found during a follow up to the government's three-year trials of GM crops which ended two years ago.
The Future of Food - Fake Foods
Since the introduction of genetically modified organisms into our food supply over 10 years ago, many scientists, farmers and consumers have voiced their concerns over a variety of issues, such as safety, drift, contamination and so on. Internationally, there are already signs that genetic engineering (GE) is more than just a risky business decision. There are consistent reports now showing that this untested new technology is already having negative consequences on the farmers and the environment...
posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Monday June 23 2003
updated on Sunday September 28 2008
URL of this article:
FDA - Monsanto: dangerous relations
Monsanto Corporation has been aggressively developing and pushing genetically modified seeds and their logical toxic counterpart, Roundup herbicide, now less damaging for some superweeds that have learned to survive the toxic onslaught by accepting genes from their GM cousins. The company has also developed a widely sold sweetener - Aspartame - which, has been called toxic by a number of researchers and according to some, is implicated in an epidemic... [read more]
November 30, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger
More Monsanto Shenanigans
This should leave no doubt about the shenanigans of Monsanto and their ilk. Just goes to show what money can buy. Here is a company that can bribe and pay the fine all in one felled swoop... and once the heat is off - then it's business as usual. Chris Gupta ---------------------- Monsanto fined $1.5m for bribery The US agrochemical giant Monsanto has agreed to pay a $1.5m (£799,000) fine... [read more]
January 13, 2005 - Chris Gupta
A lesson from the bees - swarming
Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association sums up the news on the biotech front in the latest issue of BioDemocracy News. His conclusion: The biotech monster is mortally wounded, and now cornered ... This is the first time in modern history that a new and unsustainable technology, supported by many, if not most, major corporations and governments, is being stopped dead in its tracks. This is the first, but... [read more]
July 29, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger
EU Allows Monsanto GM Maize - Move Called 'A Disaster'
US biotechnology industry giant Monsanto, has successfully pressured the European Commission into officially accepting 17 of its genetically engineered varieties of Maize to be cultivated in Europe. Monsanto enlisted the help of the Bush administration, which complained to the WTO over European 'intrasigence' on the question of GM in agriculture. One would think that the disastrous GM experience in Argentina and more recently in Mexico should have taught us something,... [read more]
September 08, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger
Agriculture: Chemicals GMO Failing - Try Organic, Sustainable
A recent discovery presages production of hydrogen - not by electrolysis but by the effects of catalytic action and sunlight on water. In the ensuing discussion on this post, the question turns to what would be needed to afford economically decent conditions to the billions of people in developing countries. It appears that both water and energy will be important, but even more decisive than these factors will be low-input... [read more]
October 09, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger
Aspartame: RICO Complaint Filed Against NutraSweet, ADA, Monsanto
15 September 2004 - A Racketeering (RICO) complaint against NutraSweet, the American Diabetes Association and Monsanto was filed in the US District Court for Northern California. The defendants are charged with manufacturing and marketing a deadly neurotoxin unfit for human consumption, while they assured the pubic that aspartame (also known as NutraSweet/Equal) contaminated products are safe and healthful, even for children and pregnant women. Aspartame, the neurotoxic artificial sweetener that... [read more]
September 17, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger