Although this article - c/o Monsanto's home town rag - provides a great piece of industry-spin, it also points to the dire fix Monsanto is in. The main part of its GM seed sales - and related herbicide sales - are under growing threat.
"Roundup Ready traits account for the bulk of the $2.7 billion in seeds and traits Monsanto sold [in the nine months that ended May 31].
These sales could be threatened if the number of glyphosate-resistant weeds continues to multiply. Eight species globally - five in the United States - have been classified since 1996, according to a consortium of weed scientists."
But while the piece admits the rapidly escalating problem of weed resistance to glyphosate - the active ingreient in Monsanto's Roundup, and the potentially dire consequences for the company, it sticks the blame for the problem onto farmers. They, it seems, have been abusing Monsanto's crops.
Farmers are accused of irresponsibly planting Roundup Ready crops in the same fields year after year, thus endangering the viability of "one of the most effective, relatively safe and commonly used agricultural weedkillers".
There's no mention of the fact that exactly this kind of mindless junk-farming has been encouraged by the type of techno-fix Monsanto's been promoting, and nor does the article offer any explanation for how come Monsanto hasn't been actively printing warning labels, placing advertisements and inspiring articles warning farmers against this kind of abuse of the technology.
But the weed extension specialist here blames it all on farmer attitude: "Sometimes it's that attitude - 'It's not a problem until it's a problem on my property, and I'll deal with it when I get it.' And that's what we have here."
Farmers are just short-sightedly pursuing their own immediate bottom line. That sounds pretty irresponsible. It also perfectly characterises Monsanto's corporate approach, "let's hype it for all it's worth and hang the consequences."
Misuse of gene-altered crops can cause problem
By Rachel Melcer
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Two Missouri farmers are providing Monsanto Co. and a University of Missouri scientist with a cautionary tale: Misuse Monsanto's Roundup Ready weed-control system, and you're likely to create a stronger weed.
On two separate soybean fields in the northwest part of the state, scientists have found common waterhemp, also known as pigweed, that shows signs of resisting glyphosate herbicide. Creve Coeur-based Monsanto sells glyphosate as Roundup.
It is one of the most effective, relatively safe and commonly used agricultural weedkillers.
It also is the cornerstone of Monsanto's blockbuster Roundup Ready crop technology. The company has genetically modified soybeans, corn, cotton and canola to withstand glyphosate. The result: Growers can spray Roundup over the top of their fields to kill weeds without harming the crop.
But if the same crop and herbicide are used on a field, year after year, weeds with a natural genetic resistance to glyphosate will survive - and thrive. Then each year, the number of resistant weeds can multiply until they choke the crop and reduce yield.
That is what happened on the northeast Missouri fields, said Kevin Bradley, extension weed scientist and assistant professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia. He would not identify the fields or farmers, but said the farmers had irresponsibly planted Roundup Ready soybeans every year since the seeds became available in 1996.<br>
Waterhemp taken from their fields last year withstood eight times the recommended dose of Roundup. If field studies planned for next summer show that the ability is inherited by new generations of waterhemp - something that Bradley considers "highly likely" - then it will be classified as Roundup resistant.
Universities and agriculture companies try to teach growers to vary crops and weedkillers each year, Bradley said. "But it's their bottom line. We can tell them to rotate to this other herbicide, but (that) costs $2 or $3 more per acre. And it doesn't make financial sense to some of them. ... You just can't compete with the Roundup Ready system."
"Sometimes it's that attitude - 'It's not a problem until it's a problem on my property, and I'll deal with it when I get it.' And that's what we have here," he said.
Monsanto said 101.5 million acres in the United States were planted with Roundup Ready crops this year. The company globally sold nearly $1.6 billion in Roundup and other glyphosate products in the nine months that ended May 31.
And Roundup Ready traits account for the bulk of the $2.7 billion in seeds and traits Monsanto sold in the same period.
These sales could be threatened if the number of glyphosate-resistant weeds continues to multiply. Eight species globally - five in the United States - have been classified since 1996, according to a consortium of weed scientists.