Sunday, June 10, 2012

Going backwards

What new 2,4-D-resistant crops mean - Going backwards
By Linda Greene
The Bloomington Alternative
June 10, 2012

On May 23, 2012, John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America, sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting his “immediate assistance in staying de-regulation of Dow AgroSciences much ballyhooed 2,4-D-resistant corn seed until an environmental impact study can be conducted and its subsequent results evaluated by scientists who are not affiliated with Dow AgroScience.”

Rowan is concerned about the use of the herbicide 2,4-D on 2,4-D-resistant–corn because it constituted half the ingredients in the defoliant Agent Orange used by the U.S. during the Vietnam War and is causing serious ailments in vets and Vietnamese civilians. Agent Orange was contaminated with dioxins, the most potent synthetic class of carcinogenic chemicals known, second only to radiation in potency as a carcinogen. Although most of the dioxins were from the 2,4,5-T half of Agent Orange, 2,4-D was also contaminated.

The deregulation, or approval for widespread planting, of 2,4-D-resistant corn and consequent increased use of the herbicide is relevant to Indiana, the fifth largest corn-producing state in the nation, according to Marti Crouch, a Bloomington biologist specializing in the interrelationships of agriculture and technology. She has recently focused on the environmental impacts of Roundup Ready crops (those resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup [glyphosate]) and the concomitant increased use of Roundup.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

War on weeds losing

War on weeds loses ground
By Helen Thompson
Nature News
May 22, 2012

With its jumble of leaves and pointy, green, flower spikes, the plant known as pigweed or palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) isn’t much to look at. But to farmers in the southeastern United States, it is a formidable foe. Having evolved the ability to withstand glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s popular herbicide Roundup, it now flourishes unchecked alongside crops such as cotton and soya bean that are genetically modified to be glyphosate tolerant.

And it is not unique, says agronomist Harold Coble at the Office of Pest Management Policy in Raleigh, North Carolina, part of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), who notes that 383 known weed varieties have the genetic defences to survive one or more herbicides. “Weed resistance is a game changer for agriculture in the same way that drug resistance has been a game changer for the health-care industry,” says Coble, who spoke on 10 May at a Weed Summit in Washington DC convened by the National Academies. The problem has escalated since the widespread introduction of Roundup Ready and similar crops over the past decade allowed farmers to apply glyphosate more liberally. At the summit, distinctly different responses to the challenge were up for discussion.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

No easy fix for superweeds

Super weeds no easy fix for US agriculture-experts
By Carey Gillam
Reuters
May 10 2012

WASHINGTON - A fast-spreading plague of “super weeds” taking over U.S. farmland will not be stopped easily, and farmers and government officials need to change existing practices if food production is to be protected, industry experts said on Thursday.

“This is a complex problem,” said weed scientist David Shaw in remarks to a national “summit” of weed experts in Washington to come up with a plan to battle weeds that have developed resistance to herbicides.

Weed resistance has spread to more than 12 million U.S. acres and primarily afflicts key agricultural areas in the U.S. Southeast and the corn and soybean growing areas of the Midwest.

Many of the worst weeds, some of which grow more than six feet and can sharply reduce crop yields, have become resistant to the popular glyphosate-based weed-killer Roundup, as well as other common herbicides.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Roundup threatens food supply

Monsanto’s Roundup threatens stability of global food supply
By Anthony Gucciardi
NationofChange
March 13, 2012

Monsanto’s reckless disregard for public health and the agricultural stability of the planet may be even more significant than previously thought. A shocking new report reveals how Monsanto’s Roundup is actually threatening the crop-yielding potential of the entire biosphere. The report reveals that glyphosate, which was developed by Monsanto in the early 1970s and is the active ingredient in its patented herbicide Roundup, may be irreversibly devastating the microbiodiversity of the soil - compromising the health of the entire planet, as a result.

New research published in the journal Current Microbiology highlights the extent to which glyphosate is altering, and in some cases destroying, the very microorganisms upon which the health of the soil, and - amazingly - the benefits of raw and fermented foods as a whole, depend. Concerningly, certain beneficial strains of bacteria used as food-starters in cultures for raw yogurt, such as Lactobacillus cremoris, have entirely disappeared from certain geographic regions where traditionally they were found in plenty. The study reports that the death and growth inhibition of selected food microorganisms was observed in concentrations of Roundup that are lower than are recommended in agricultural practice.

This means that farmers who are increasingly using larger and larger concentrations of Roundup and similar glyphosate-based herbicide formulations to countermand the increasingly resistant super weeds GM agriculture has spawned, are not only damaging the immediate health of the soil, but subsequent yields of indispensable food-starter microorganisms, as well as the microbes that ensure the overall fertility of the soil for producing crops well into the future.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Glyphosate-resistant Kochia

Glyphosate-resistant weed spreads to Canada crop belt
By Rod Nickel
Reuters
January 11, 2012

WINNIPEG, Manitoba - A weed resistant to a widely used chemical to protect crops has spread for the first time to Western Canada, the country’s grain and canola belt.

Kochia weed turned up in three fields in Southern Alberta last August, despite the use of glyphosate, and Canadian government scientists have now confirmed that it is resistant to the farm chemical, seed company Monsanto Canada said on Wednesday.

So-called “super weeds” have defied dosages of the world’s top-selling herbicide, Monsanto’s Roundup, and spread through key crop-growing areas of the United States in recent years, boosting costs and cutting crop yields for farmers.

Roundup’s active ingredient is glyphosate.

“That is one of the chemicals that has been so broadly used that this will be a growing issue that we have to face,” said Ron Frost, a Calgary, Alberta-based agriculture analyst.

Kochia has previously been confirmed in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, and suspected cases are under investigation in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

[Read More…]

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