I noticed this headline for an article on weed resistance on Natural News.com today:
Monsanto-spawned superweeds growing three inches daily, destroying farm equipment
The article was written back in August, and there are several things I find misleading with the headline. Easy things first, there are several species of weeds that tend to grow quickly normally, and I have yet to see a weed that I am familiar with destroy farm equipment.
The term “super weeds” also bothers me, because it infers that they are unable to be controlled, which most certainly is not true. Using good management practices, such as using herbicides with different chemistries, or modes of action (The way a pesticide is designed to act on the target organism), or spraying weeds when they are very small, will allow a farmer to adequately and safely control weed populations.
The last thing that bothers me about this headline is when it says “Monsanto spawned”, effectively trying to place blame for herbicide resistant weeds on Monsanto. People like to cite examples of glyphosate (Roundup) resistant weeds as a means to bash #GMO crops and Monsanto. I am not an apologist for Monsanto and don’t always agree with their views, but weed resistance is nothing new, and is certainly not caused by Monsanto or glyphosate use alone. Here is a link to a table of different herbicides (most of which aren’t produced by Monsanto) and known number of resistant weed varieties:
So, if #GMOs, Roundup and Monsanto (or any other herbicide manufacturer for that matter) aren’t to blame for weed resistance, then who else is? Farmers for one should share a large part of the responsibility. Farmers who use the same herbicide on the same field multiple times a year many years in a row. Farmers who try to get by cheap and don’t use the right rates based on the size of the weeds. Farmers who don’t rotate herbicides with different modes of action, or tank-mix herbicides with different modes of action when they have a population of a resistant weed species.
Keep in mind, I am not placing blame on all farmers. In fact it is a small number of farmers that I feel can be blamed for weed resistance. Companies that manufacture herbicides, government agencies, places where farmers buy herbicides all give recommendations as to how those herbicides should be properly used to avoid issues such as weed resistance. And yet, there are those farmers ( I know of some in my geography) who choose not to follow those recommendations, eventually leading to problems such as weed resistance that the 99% of us who follow good management practices and recommendations have to deal with.
So while it may be popular to bash and blame big companies such as Monsanto for problems in agriculture, we sometimes have to look at ourselves and accept responsibility for things that we have done wrong, rather than placing the blame on some faceless entity because it is the easy or popular thing to do.