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Intro: "U.S. farmers are using more hazardous pesticides to fight weeds and insects due largely to heavy adoption of genetically modified crop technologies that are sparking a rise of 'superweeds' and hard-to-kill insects, according to a newly released study."

Farmer Mark Nelson bends down and yanks a four-foot-tall pesticide resistant weed from his northeast Kansas soybean field. The waterhemp towers above his beans, sucking up the soil moisture and nutrients his beans need to grow well and reducing the ultimate yield. (photo: Reuters)
Farmer Mark Nelson bends down and yanks a four-foot-tall pesticide resistant weed from his northeast Kansas soybean field. The waterhemp towers above his beans, sucking up the soil moisture and nutrients his beans need to grow well and reducing the ultimate yield. (photo: Reuters)

Pesticide Use Ramping Up As GMO Crop Technology Backfires

By Carey Gillam, Reuters

03 October 12


.S. farmers are using more hazardous pesticides to fight weeds and insects due largely to heavy adoption of genetically modified crop technologies that are sparking a rise of "superweeds" and hard-to-kill insects, according to a newly released study.

Genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011, according to the report by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University.

Of that total, herbicide use increased over the 16-year period by 527 million pounds while insecticide use decreased by 123 million pounds.

Benbrook's paper -- published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe over the weekend and announced on Monday -- undermines the value of both herbicide-tolerant crops and insect-protected crops, which were aimed at making it easier for farmers to kill weeds in their fields and protect crops from harmful pests, said Benbrook.

Herbicide-tolerant crops were the first genetically modified crops introduced to world, rolled out by Monsanto Co. in 1996, first in "Roundup Ready" soybeans and then in corn, cotton and other crops. Roundup Ready crops are engineered through transgenic modification to tolerate dousings of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.

The crops were a hit with farmers who found they could easily kill weed populations without damaging their crops. But in recent years, more than two dozen weed species have become resistant to Roundup's chief ingredient glyphosate, causing farmers to use increasing amounts both of glyphosate and other weedkilling chemicals to try to control the so-called "superweeds."

"Resistant weeds have become a major problem for many farmers reliant on GE crops, and are now driving up the volume of herbicide needed each year by about 25 percent," Benbrook said.

Monsanto officials had no immediate comment.

"We're looking at this. Our experts haven't been able to access the supporting data as yet," said Monsanto spokesman Thomas Helscher.

Benbrook said the annual increase in the herbicides required to deal with tougher-to-control weeds on cropland planted to genetically modified crops has grown from 1.5 million pounds in 1999 to about 90 million pounds in 2011.

Similarly, the introduction of "Bt" corn and cotton crops engineered to be toxic to certain insects is triggering the rise of insects resistant to the crop toxin, according to Benbrook.

Insecticide use did drop substantially - 28 percent from 1996 to 2011 - but is now on the rise, he said.

"The relatively recent emergence and spread of insect populations resistant to the Bt toxins expressed in Bt corn and cotton has started to increase insecticide use, and will continue to do so," he said.

Herbicide-tolerant and Bt-transgenic crops now dominate U.S. agriculture, accounting for about one in every two acres of harvested cropland, and around 95 percent of soybean and cotton acres, and over 85 percent of corn acres.

"Things are getting worse, fast," said Benbrook in an interview. "In order to deal with rapidly spreading resistant weeds, farmers are being forced to expand use of older, higher-risk herbicides. To stop corn and cotton insects from developing resistance to Bt, farmers planting Bt crops are being asked to spray the insecticides that Bt corn and cotton were designed to displace." your social media marketing partner


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+16 # Andrew Hansen 2012-10-03 09:45
Mutually Assured Destruction.
+1 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-10-05 13:17
Yes, and the Hermann Kahn of the day is named Monsanto.
From their point of view it is the best of both world: they cornered the seed market ($$$Ka-ching!$$ $), and now they even get to sell more of the pesticide they claimed you would not need nearly as much ($$$Re-ka-ching !$$$).
+12 # MsAnnaNOLA 2012-10-03 09:58
So how are we going to feed ourselves after we have depleted the soil and grown super weeds and super pests?

How are we going to survive as a species without food and without new people because GMO crops have made everyone sterile?
+6 # Stafft 2012-10-03 10:22
we won't
+2 # ER444 2012-10-03 12:41
At least we will have enough "Bio" fuel to power the Hersts on the way to our funerals. Greed is everywhere and will take us down if we don't start thinking about our world and the future. Humanity is challenged. Are we up to it?
+1 # brux 2012-10-03 17:14
The "Hersts" ????
+5 # Activista 2012-10-03 15:01
"how are we going to feed ourselves after we have POSIONED the soil"
GMO crops are engineered for monoculture = disaster agriculture. GMO crops will need new and more herbicides (poison) to survive, more petrochemical fertilizers.
Soil is LIVING, complex organism - we are KILLING it.
0 # Texas Aggie 2012-10-05 13:18
We were doing monocultures LONG before GM crops were even thought of. That's why periodically, about every 5 - 10 years, the wheat crop would fail as the particular strain of rust that the monoculture was bred to be resistant to then evolved to overcome that resistance and attacked the wheat crop from one country to the next.

GM crops are no more monocultures than nonGM are, and some GM crops are LESS likely to cause problems because they are engineered to fix nitrogen and, as the article mentioned, to resist insects without the need of insecticide application. Or are you against the reduction of insecticide use? (insecticide use decreased by 123 million pounds.)
+3 # KittatinyHawk 2012-10-03 17:14
Well perhaps a class in growing your own veggies and fruits would be a real start.
Then perhaps a look at a really big trend that has been around for decades...Organ icFarms Wow what a concept.
Then if you really put yourself into gear a look into LocalHarvest on the internet could help promote sustainable growers in your area....if you actually live in a city, they have ways to contact stores who sell locally grown.

Now for a challenge if you are up to it...Organizing local community Garden. I imagine no one else has done this so you may not find any access to information on the web. But LocalHarvest, Rodale and I am sure there are Magazines in the Magazine Aisle of the Grocery Store about Gardening.
Do you know the biggest nonsense I hear...I live in city and I cannot grow.
Well, people in Europe lived very crowded, they did not think so but they were not into Yuppie Sprawl. The residents had basically row homes and small yards. They implemented rooftops as we did in Brooklyn growing up but what I found interesting in these people's drive to feed their family, fresh food....they hung shoe trees, pots out on the ledges, very securely I must add, most facing morning and some afternoon light. They actually fed their families. I have on sites on the web found similar hanging gardens so save space.
There are things called Heirloom Seeds, and Seed Traders o the web. Can y
+1 # brux 2012-10-03 17:14
Start to develop a taste for weed salads ... many of them are very edible you know ? ;-)
-2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-10-03 17:14
Everyone is not sterile...what a notion.
Stay in school, please learn to read.
0 # mdhome 2012-10-04 11:13
Learn to eat weeds?
0 # Texas Aggie 2012-10-05 13:21
Dandelions, mint, lengua de vaca, poke salad, and numerous others that some people define as weeds and others as vegetables.
0 # Texas Aggie 2012-10-05 13:12
Do you really think that somehow "super weeds" and "super pests" are more harmful than the garden variety weed and pest? Do you think that they are going to eat you? Why?

All the term "super" means is that they resist whatever pesticide used to kill them. In practice, once the pesticide is no longer used, the garden variety pests are able to outcompete the "super" pests and, after many generations, reestablish dominance because carrying genes for resistance in the absence of something to be resistant to is selected against by evolution.

And where did you come up with depleted soil in relation to GMO?
+7 # RnR 2012-10-03 10:18
Maybe Monsanto can set up a fund for those ending up in the hospital with incurable staph infections due to the injection of feed animals with their toxins...just a thought that might signify a sincere desire to rectify the horror they have knowingly unleashed.

Oh well, I take it back it's Monsanto we're talking about.
0 # Texas Aggie 2012-10-05 13:23
Staph infections associated with GM??? Do you really want to be taken seriously?

And where was there any mention of injecting either herbicides or insecticides into animals?
+7 # carp 2012-10-03 13:51
Funny that Monsanto does not have access to supporting data as yet but I have been reading about this increase of pesticides since 2011. I have been reading about cancers and spontaneous abortion in livestock fed GMO corn and soy. And yet Sec Vilsack eliminated the regulations concerning GMO sweet corn and alfalfa in spite of the studies. Vilsack said his recommendation was based on studies. Studies that were supplied by Monsanto. Regulators in the Dept of Ag have admitted to cutting and pasting Monsanto's findings into their reports.
+2 # Activista 2012-10-03 15:04
I do not know about ONE scientist with support of the scientific community in THIS administration.
GREED - MONEY culture aka Moneysanto?
0 # Texas Aggie 2012-10-05 13:25
That abortion problem you mention is restricted to one occurrence in India, while here in the US nothing of the kind has occurred despite use of GM corn and soy for years. It makes you suspect that GM had nothing to do with it in India.
+7 # jlg 2012-10-03 14:00
Did this report come out before the dreadful news that 2,4D, the active ingredient in the notorious Agent Orange, will be used where tolerance has developed to Roundup (itself an endocrine disruptor or 'gender bender)? Are these people evil, crazy, blindly ignorant, brainwashed or.... what?
+3 # Activista 2012-10-03 15:06
"Are these people evil, crazy, blindly ignorant, brainwashed or.... what?"
YES they are - would add more expletives - but ... they have their lawyers monitoring media ...
+6 # Street Level 2012-10-03 14:09
This is why they want to bring back 2,4-D.
+1 # Holmes 2012-10-04 00:06
?? It never went away, what are you talking about. Its just that plants did find it much harder than Roundup(r) to become resistant too. Now there are plenty of phenoxy resistant weeds.
+2 # brux 2012-10-03 17:11
Thanks Monsanto ... for nothing .... ASSHOLES !
+4 # KittatinyHawk 2012-10-03 17:19
I wonder in this age of technology why you all do not look up are like the sheeple who read and do not investigate.

You can change things, if you want to. If not go back to putting your head into the sand if that is what you call it today.

There is plenty to do, major organizations all over the web, your phony twitter and fb so why not learn, get involved. As I said above to someone who has no concept of what is going on and how to keep the Organic Movement going....learn how to do something.

By the way, Monsanto has been killing people along with DuPont, DOW et al for over a half think this is all new? We have been protesting Monsanto for over 30 years but we were sooooo boring. WEll now you are boring for not listening, learning and getting involved.
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-10-03 17:29
Lastly I do not feel sorry for the Welfare Farmers that suck the life out of this Country. They are the first Racist cretins blaming the Foreigners for everything, funny how them foreigners were good enough to farm for nothing for them.
These cretins wanted more, more, they have destroyed the land and believe they have gotten half what they deserve. I hope the weeds choke their homes like a sci fi movie. They refused to listen to anyone since the sixties....we were tree huggers, no nothing bums like them thar foreigners collecting welfare. Well, farmers like them I know collect more welfare than anyone....They steal from us. They get paid not to farm, not to feed the hungry. If you asked them, they would tell you 'them kids be better off dead than born to those types' I still hear this today in Pa. Sorry no towels, no violins...they are getting what they sow, and reap.
I know how to get rid of weeds, I work at it. I have no machines to do it for me. I pull by hand, I mulch, I use safe recycled goods to keep weeds down...And I buy safe seeds, trade or dry my own.
Gee I am not a Scientist. Just an average person who grew up in a City, moved to rural America and learned how to cultivate the land by putting back
I wonder how many birds, wildlife, bugs these farmers killed...intent ionally. I wonder how much water they have polluted because I have seen the ponds left over from Toxic Farming.
0 # Activista 2012-10-04 11:35
Here in Washington (especially Eastern Washington) Mexicans are buying farms and Orchards - and whole extended family is involved. At the market they have the best prices and they have my preference. They are pulling the weeds - not like my neighbor farmer in big tractor pouring the gallons of herbicides on one plant sitting on his huge tractor. Musing how cheap is the stuff.
+2 # BLBreck 2012-10-03 18:02
Well, duh. Monsanto knows this and Monsanto is glad, more money for hell with everyone else! Not only what will we do when our soil and water are completely ruined, what will we do when our farmers die or say to hell with this! If you live in California PLEASE vote yes on Prop. 37 and make these creeps label the stuff and have a little power over these evil people! If CA passes it...then other states have a chance at passing it!
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-10-03 20:40
We said it would happen, Monsatano didn’t listen to Science & Wisdom, & now we’re all screwed. So much for Messing with Mother.
0 # Zozo 2012-10-04 19:46
Who is culpable when we find soil is dead as well as all of the pollinators?
0 # Texas Aggie 2012-10-05 13:07
"insecticide use decreased by 123 million pounds."

I fail to see why this is a problem. Do people really think that insecticides should be used more? That they are somehow healthful?

Only a fool would try to link the increased use of herbicides and the decreased use of insecticides because both of them stem from genetic modification. They are different issues and trying to say they are both wrong is like linking guns with cars because both kill people. Some day reality based people will wake up to the idea that GM is a technique, and the use to which it is put is important, not the technique itself.

If you look at history, you find that the same arguments used against GM were once used against grafting plants, a technique that saved the French wine industry and gives us a variety of fruit, especially seedless fruit.
0 # Texas Aggie 2012-10-05 13:35
"Farmer Mark Nelson bends down and yanks a four-foot-tall pesticide resistant weed from his northeast Kansas soybean field."

Well, the benefit of herbicide resistant weeds is that now farmers will have to go back to "yanking" weeds out by brute force and not with herbicides. It isn't as if the resistant weeds are any worse than their susceptible ancestors.

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