Genetically Engineered Food Crops Require More Herbicide


| December/January 2005


Genetically engineered (GE) foods have been touted as the answer to the age-old competition of crops versus weeds. Genetic engineering advocates claimed that if plants are engineered to be resistant to applications of Roundup (a glyphosate herbicide manufactured by the GE-promoting firm Monsanto) then they would require fewer toxic herbicides to help them grow. But now, data from the United States Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service shows that these genetically modified food crops actually are requiring more and more help from other herbicides during the growth cycle ? not less.

The number of weeds that are resistant to glyphosate is increasing, because their genes can travel quickly when their pollen spreads. According to agriculture policy expert, Dr. Charles M. Benbrook, the beginnings of this environmental and economic problem can be seen in a weed called 'marestail.' Dr. Benbrook says that as a result of heavy reliance on Monsanto's Roundup, 'marestail will almost certainly be the first of several glyphosate-resistant weeds that emerge and spread,' triggering the need for the creation of a new toxic herbicide.

Some farmers are apparently willing to ignore the degradation caused by releasing so many toxic chemicals into our environment, because they need to find ways to decrease their costs. But opponents of genetic engineering argue that the only ones who benefit from genetically modified crops are the companies that sell them.

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