One of the expected advantages to genetically modified crops is their proposed ability to withstand onslaughts from weeds and other pests that could damage or destroy crops. Unfortunately, that’s not the way mother nature works. Yes, these crops may be resistant to the original stains of weeds and pests they were engineered for, but they are not resistant to the new super-weeds that have come in their place.
Mutations and resistance
Similar to bacterial infections in humans, once a host becomes resistant to a strain, that strain simply mutates so that it can stay one step ahead. The cycle then continues and new pesticides and GMOs must be formulated to withstand the new threats. These new threats; however, become more and more difficult to kill which is why stronger and more dangerously toxic pesticides must continue to be developed. This unnatural cycle cannot last forever though and the day will come when these super-weeds and super-pests will prevail.
Things are getting worse, fast
According to research professor Charles Benbrook at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at WSU, genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in total pesticide use, by 404 million pounds in the last 14 years. “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. In recent years, more than two dozen weed species have become immune to Roundup’s principal ingredient, glyphosate. “Things are getting worse, fast,” says Benbrook “In order to deal with rapidly spreading resistant weeds, farmers are being forced to expand use of older, higher-risk herbicides.”
To illustrate the problem…
The use of Bt corn is a great way to illustrate the resistance problem. Bt corn is genetically changed to express the Bacillus thuringiensis toxin, which is toxic to insect pests. By law, farmers in the U.S. who plant Bt corn are required to plant non-Bt corn nearby. These non-GMO fields are to provide a location to harbor pests. The concept behind this technique is to slow the evolution of the pests’ resistance to the Bt pesticide. Clearly the problem has gotten way out of hand when there is a law that exists specifically to slow the progression of resistance in pests. Instead of recognizing that the current system is broken, big agriculture companies like Monsanto turn a blind eye and force farmers to increase the use of pesticides.
Mother Nature’s design
Mother Nature has a very special system that does not involve man-made chemicals or genetically modified crops. If fact, this is one of the very reasons mid-sized organic farming is the most efficient kind. “And how do crops survive the pests without GMOs, chemical fertilizers or pesticides?” you might ask. The answer is simple; centuries old techniques such as crop rotation, inter-cropping, residue management, roguing, regulating seed quality and applying natural insecticides are used. These sometimes labor intensive techniques have no place in the industrial agriculture system who’s goal is to automate and standardize as much of the process as possible in an attempt to turn out the largest yield and the most profits.
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By: John McKiernan
Source: Natural News