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Assessment & Impacts » Ecological

Title: Impact of Glyphosate Resistant Palmer Pigweed on US Agriculture
Publication date: May 30, 2010
Posting date: May 30, 2010


Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Re: Impact of Glyphosate Resistant Palmer Pigweed on US Agriculture
The rapid spread of glyphosate resistant Palmer pigweed constitutes a major agronomic failure of genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready (RR) seeds. While GE crops have stumbled in the past, the spread of glyphosate resistant weeds is causing problems more severe and widespread than any GE crop failure recorded to date. It is negating the supposed benefits of GE herbicide tolerant crops, engineered to withstand applications of herbicide so that only weeds are killed, and shows why it is a dead end strategy for farmers and the environment. 
Because of rapidly spreading herbicide resistance, US farmers in large sections of the country now have little choice but to use more chemicals, and more powerful chemicals, on their crops. They are also tilling the land more, resulting in loss of valuable topsoil and release of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. In many cases the weeds have proven impossible to control even with chemicals and increased tilling and farmers must hire laborers to manually weed crops. 
None of the glyphosate-resistant weeds that have emerged in the US since RR crops were approved is more of a threat than Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) or Palmer pigweed, as it is commonly known. The unfolding Palmer pigweed disaster reveals fatal shortcomings of large scale farming of GE herbicide resistant crops, and how corporate greed and short sightedness have accelerated the chemical treadmill.
Far from bringing American cotton farmers into a new, gilded biotech age, the price of Monsantos profits and over-reliance on glyphosate is an expensive unfolding chemical catastrophe that is leading US farmers right back to where they started: hoes, ploughs, unsustainable reliance on toxic chemicals, and unacceptable environmental impacts.
The attached TWN paper examines the phenomenon of glyphosate resistant Palmer pigweed and its impacts on US agriculture. 
With best wishes,
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister,
10400 Penang,

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