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The New York Times reports Tuesday morning on “superweeds.” This has been a topic of discussion for some time — the rise of weeds resistant to the herbicide Roundup, “tenacious new superweeds,” according to Times reporters William Neuman and Andrew Pollack.
“To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor intensive methods like regular plowing,” the reporters write. “We’re back to where we were 20 years ago,” said Eddie Anderson a Tennessee farmer who will plow about one third of his 3,000 acres of soybean fields this spring, more than he has in years. “We’re trying to find out what works.”
An Arkansas agriculturalist described this phenomenon as the “single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen.” There are now ten resistant species in fields in 22 states. Most of the land is planted in soybeans, cotton and corn.
“The superweeds could temper American agriculture’s enthusiasm for some genetically modified crops,” according to the reporters “Soybeans, corn and cotton that are engineered to survive spraying with Roundup have become standard in American fields. However, if Roundup doesn’t kill the weeds, farmers have little incentive to spend the extra money for the special seeds.”