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Organic Consumers Association

Monsanto's Superweeds Come Home to Roost

For related articles and more information please visit OCA's Millions Against Monsanto Campaign page or our Resource Center on Genetic Engineering.

There's been much recent news about Monsanto paying farmers to use its competitors' herbicides, in what many see as a last ditch effort to address the spread of superweeds created by the company's "Roundup Ready" (RR) GMO crops.

Environmental scientists warned even before Monsanto's "herbicide tolerant" GMO crops were approved that they would hasten the evolution of resistant weeds. For these scientists, the issue was obvious: introduction of high doses of a single chemical year after year would result in the exact conditions needed to breed resistance: weeds with resistance genes would be the only weeds that could survive and breed, leading to superweeds that are unaffected even by massive herbicide spraying.

Of course, Monsanto denied these early warnings. In a 1997 paper, Monsanto scientists claimed that weed resistance was such a complex genetic phenomena that RR crops would be unlikely to lead to resistant weeds.  What's even more troubling, though, is that Monsanto continued to ignore the spread of superweeds for years, and worked to persuade and threaten farmers against strategies to avoid resistance - since those strategies would have cut into the company's sales of Roundup and RR crops.


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