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Herbicide-Resistant 'Superweeds' Plaguing Half the Nation's Farmers


The use of the harsh, best-selling chemical pesticide, glyphosate—sold as Monsanto's Roundup—is causing the widespread growth of resistant 'superweeds.' Used on genetically modified crops including Monsanto's canola, cotton, corn and soy, which dominate much of the nation's farmland, glyphosate resistant superweeds were first noticed in 2010, spreading out across farms, damaging crops and farm equipment, and requiring the use of increased applications and additional chemicals.

Now, a new report from an agribusiness research agency, Stratus, suggests the damage is much worse. Tom Philpott for Mother Jones: "Back in 2011, such weeds were already spreading fast. 'Monsanto's 'Superweeds' Gallop Through Midwest,' declared the headline of a post I wrote then. What's the word you use when an already-galloping horse speeds up? Because that's what's happening. Let's try this: 'Monsanto's 'Superweeds' Stampede Through Midwest.'"

According to the report, nearly half of the surveyed farmers in 2012 say they are experiencing glyphosate-resistant weeds on their farms, up from 34 percent just a year earlier. Numbers increased 25 percent in 2011 and more than 50 percent in 2012. And in the South, it's even more severe: 92 percent of growers polled in Georgia claimed to be battling superweeds.

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From the Organic Authority Files

To address the issue, Monsanto and other biotech companies have already begun the approval process for crops resistant to even stronger chemicals, such as 2,4-D (Agent Orange) and Dicamba, says Philpott, " Trouble is, such an escalation in the chemical war on weeds will likely only lead to more prolific, and more super, superweeds, along with a sharp increase in herbicide use."

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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