Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Attack of the SuperWeeds (and what it may mean for giant agribusiness)


Recommended Posts

Sorry if this is behind the dreaded paywall (though I'm somewhat sure the Times gives a few freebies every month). 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/18/magazine/superweeds-monsanto.html

 

In any event, the Times Magazine (this past weekend) ran a story about, well, superweeds. That is, weeds resistant to the herbicides which are sprayed on fields of things like soy, cotton, corn and other commodity crops. 

 

It appears as if weeds, like certain viruses, evolve rather quickly to defeat things which are out to kill them. And weeds are really good at it, especially a weed called Palmer Amaranth.

 

Quote

Superweeds — that is, weeds that have evolved characteristics that make them more difficult to control as a result of repeatedly using the same management tactic — are rapidly overtaking American commodity farms, and Palmer amaranth is their king. Scientists have identified a population of Palmer amaranth that can tolerate being sprayed with six different herbicides (though not all at once), and they continue to discover new resistances. By now, it’s clear that weeds are evolving faster than companies are developing new weed killers: Just six years ago, in response to the onset of resistance to its marquee product, Roundup (active ingredient: glyphosate), Monsanto began selling a new generation of genetically modified seeds bred to resist both glyphosate and dicamba. By 2020, scientists had confirmed the existence of dicamba-resistant Palmer amaranth. The agribusiness giant took a decade to develop that product line. The weeds caught up in five years.

 

(Side Note: Of course Monsanto developed seeds which could survive the onslaught of their herbicides being sprayed on the fields. And it's my own opinion, but how surprising is it that gluten intolerance, celiac, and various other digestive issues have come to the forefront in the 20th and 21st centuries, sorta coinciding with the use of these herbicides and pesticides on fields of everything we eat?)

 

Quote

A January paper on a Palmer amaranth population shown to resist multiple weed killers put the problem succinctly: “Weed resistance to herbicides, especially multiple-herbicide resistance, poses a serious threat to global food production.” (Herbicide-resistant weeds are generally less of a concern on organic farms, but these make up less than 1 percent of total U.S. acreage.) It’s hard to estimate exactly how much damage has already been wrought by herbicide resistance; the weeds are gaining ground faster than scientists can survey them. 

 

Start eating Palmer amaranth, everyone!

  • Like 2

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Herbicide-resistant weeds, antibiotic-resistant bacteria...you'd almost think we were on the wrong path, or something... :P

  • Like 2

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, gfweb said:

@weinoo gluten intolerance and celiac have been around for ages. Detection/awareness has just gotten better.

 

 

 

In support of which:

https://www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/celiac-history/#:~:text=Greek physician and medical writer,of the food and if

  • Like 2

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, gfweb said:

@weinoo gluten intolerance and celiac have been around for ages. Detection/awareness has just gotten better.

 

 

 

Only my opinion. Everything's been around for ages, and certainly detection and awareness has gotten better, but you can't really think that spraying poisons onto giant fields of wheat and corn and soy before they are harvested, is good for the final product?

  • Like 5

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote

Glyphosate, too, has fallen out of favor outside U.S. farming circles because of its possible links to cancer, and Bayer, the company that acquired Monsanto in 2018, announced in July that it would phase the chemical out of U.S. lawn and garden products to avoid future lawsuits after committing up to $9.6 billion to settle about 125,000 claims that the product caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among users. (Bayer stresses that this change is unrelated to safety considerations.) Glyphosate’s use remains ubiquitous among growers, however. Even though it doesn’t work on all weeds anymore, the alternative — adopting a more integrated approach to weed control — would mean totally rethinking their operations.

 

I'm sure that non-Hodgkin's lymphoma existed prior to the use of glyphosate, but I guess Bayer didn't feel like going down that path.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

33 minutes ago, weinoo said:

 

Only my opinion. Everything's been around for ages, and certainly detection and awareness has gotten better, but you can't really think that spraying poisons onto giant fields of wheat and corn and soy before they are harvested, is good for the final product?

 

It really has been studied by the Feds and the company. It isn't sprayed right before harvest, its while the crop is young. 

I think that if there's an effect they haven't found it.

Now as to ecological mischief...that's a whole other thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

32 minutes ago, weinoo said:

 

I'm sure that non-Hodgkin's lymphoma existed prior to the use of glyphosate, but I guess Bayer didn't feel like going down that path.

A jury decided that case. All it proves is that the plaintiff had more convincing lawyers.  Our EPA, which  is staffed by honest folks who try hard, found no link.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We can all cherry pick to our heart's content...that's what is great about the internet, and in this case, eG.  I mean, I know there are smokers who have lived well into their 90s; does that mean we should all start using tobacco? In any event...

 

Quote

Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is recognized as the world's most widely used weed killer. What is not so well known is that farmers also use glyphosate on crops such as wheat, oats, edible beans and other crops right before harvest, raising concerns that the herbicide could get into food products.

 

https://www.ecowatch.com/roundup-cancer-1882187755.html

  • Sad 1

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, weinoo said:

We can all cherry pick to our heart's content...that's what is great about the internet, and in this case, eG.  I mean, I know there are smokers who have lived well into their 90s; does that mean we should all start using tobacco? In any event...

 

 

https://www.ecowatch.com/roundup-cancer-1882187755.html

Good grief.

But still, supposedly safe.

 

FWIW Monsanto is pulling roundup from the market in a year or so to squelch lawsuits.  They will replace it with new poisons which, since they are new, won't have the safety record of round up. And so it goes...

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, gfweb said:

They will replace it with new poisons which, since they are new, won't have the safety record of round up. And so it goes...

 

I'm buying organic; I know even that might be a scam (and probably is), but I feel like at least I'm trying. And if they're local, farmer's market people, I feel a little more confident that they're at least trying!

 

We're doomed!! Silent Spring (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) caused quite a stir when it was released (in 1962!); she was way ahead of her times!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 minutes ago, weinoo said:

 

I'm buying organic; I know even that might be a scam (and probably is), but I feel like at least I'm trying. And if they're local, farmer's market people, I feel a little more confident that they're at least trying!

 

We're doomed!! Silent Spring (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) caused quite a stir when it was released (in 1962!); she was way ahead of her times!

 

I usually buy organic mainly because they last longer in the fridge. I'm assuming that the supply chain is shorter and there's less delay from harvest to store.

 

My big worry isn't poisons but infectious stuff in produce.  There's only so much you can do to guard against it with raw veg.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, gfweb said:

My big worry isn't poisons but infectious stuff in produce.  There's only so much you can do to guard against it with raw veg.

 

@chromedome will certainly keep you apprised!

  • Like 1

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, gfweb said:

@weinoo gluten intolerance and celiac have been around for ages. Detection/awareness has just gotten better.

 

 

 

And of course, in the past, people used die for many reasons that were unknown (including giving more bread to the young kid that developed intolerance to gluten, and their parents could only think of feeding him better and or more, trying to help him because nobody knew at that time what was affecting the kid was the gluten)

We are expecting to have more and more of this type of health disorders. It is as simply as because now people affected by these serious intolerances that used to die in the past,  now they survive, live, and have more kids, and in many cases, we just talk about genetics....

 

We all will die. Don't spent too much time to think on weird and or conspiracy. If you don't die for lack of higyene while being born, you may die by starving as a kid, or from a flu. If not, you may got injured while hunting (in the old ages, think about it).

What happen when your society has do a great job of fixing the classic way of dying? You/we will still die. And then "new" ways of dying (that existed too 100.000 years ago) became more prominent, because breaking a bone is no longer a classic way of dying......

 

cheers

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agronomists all over the world have been studying this phenomenon and working on breeding programs for many years. Plants, insects etc are way more adaptive than us mere humans. Seed control by Big Agra is a serious issue. But food scarcity is global and farmers become the indentured servants of the seed companies in order to survive.  Monsanto started brainwashing us as kids with the Monsanto exhibit at Disneyland, and oh those Beyer ads with the baby aspirin bringing relief by virtue of this benevolent company.  The plant scientists are promoting alternate weed management techniques but, as with most things, its success is financially dependent. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, heidih said:

Agronomists all over the world have been studying this phenomenon and working on breeding programs for many years. Plants, insects etc are way more adaptive than us mere humans. Seed control by Big Agra is a serious issue. But food scarcity is global and farmers become the indentured servants of the seed companies in order to survive.  Monsanto started brainwashing us as kids with the Monsanto exhibit at Disneyland, and oh those Beyer ads with the baby aspirin bringing relief by virtue of this benevolent company.  The plant scientists are promoting alternate weed management techniques but, as with most things, its success is financially dependent. 

Can you please properly develop the ;ast sentence? the alternate weed management promoted by scientists?

 

Thanks in advance

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, farcego said:

Can you please properly develop the ;ast sentence? the alternate weed management promoted by scientists?

 

Thanks in advance

This Michigan State Extension is a nice little summary though 10 years old. . As farmers educate themselves on improving their soil versus fertilizer inundation there is progress.  https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/organic_weed_control_in_field_crops And as farming occurs within the larger ecosystem this is a snippet about the bigger picture  https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/how-an-iowa-farmer-used-the-campaign-stop-economy-to-push-climate-action-on-2020-democrats

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another interesting example of a farmer getting off the train that is conventional ag:

https://www.agweb.com/news/crops/crop-production/skeptical-farmers-monster-message-profitability

  • Like 1

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

25 minutes ago, chromedome said:

Another interesting example of a farmer getting off the train that is conventional ag:

https://www.agweb.com/news/crops/crop-production/skeptical-farmers-monster-message-profitability

 

Good stuff...and how surprising is this, really?

 

Quote

 The answer floated by the big companies was more and more chemicals, and meanwhile we were steadily going broke,” he recalls.

 

I like this guy, but if I were him, I'd be looking over my shoulder for the bad guys a lot!!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For everyone who's a) interested in this stuff, and b) on Twitter, I can highly recommend Dr. Sarah Taber as a "follow." She's a crop scientist whose wry take on agriculture and related topics is always readable and enlightening ("related topics" can be far-flung...she recently managed to draw an explicit link between Captain America's origin story and the prevalence of pellagra in the early 20th century).

 

Her rant on the dubious narrative behind "imperfect" produce went viral a couple of years ago, and IIRC it was shared somewhere here on eG. Heck, I may even have been the one who shared it, I'm not sure.

  • Like 1

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/29/2021 at 6:42 AM, chromedome said:

Another interesting example of a farmer getting off the train that is conventional ag:

https://www.agweb.com/news/crops/crop-production/skeptical-farmers-monster-message-profitability

Thanks for that. So heartening to see the farmers sharing knowledge and experience outside the BigAgra box. A friend here still has family farmland ib Indiana. H has managed to get it into a land trust so it remains un-used and can't be sold. He has vivid memories of the fertilizer train cars rattling through town when he has visited. He is a Dr. not farmer so he thought saw if best left alone than mangled. , David Mas Masumoto's Epitaph for a Peach (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) is also a great farmer read.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...