Monsanto has engineered new strains of cotton and soybean that are able to tolerate multiple herbicides.
But critics and activists see it as one more link in the deadly daisy-chain that supplants one engineered crop with a new set of more intractable weeds that must then be controlled with even more potent herbicides.
The agrochemical giant’s press release (following recent USDA approval) claims that “these weed management solutions will provide farmers with more consistent, flexible control of tough-to-manage broadleaf weeds.”
That argument isn’t likely to stop the protest the Monsanto brand is facing with a famous face attached who’s better known for caring about a different kind of weed—Willie Nelson. [more]
On May 23, the international March Against Monsanto aims to shame the global agrochemical giant, and it’s already plastering the country singer’s face on posters and social media callouts. Its website is rallying protesters by citing the recent FDA approval for the company’s GMO cotton and soybean plants, among other news.
The company, undeterred, is pressing its case that its cotton—MON 88701, or Bollgard II XtendFlexCotton—can survive exposure to three herbicides: dicamba, glufosinate and glyphosate.
It’s also standing firmly behind its soybeans—MON 88708, or Roundup Ready 2 XtendTM Soybeans—which can withstand dicamba and glyphosate.
However, as Wired reported, the genetic mutations that helped weeds survive glysophate have resulted in “superweeds,” which now infest “at least 61 million acres of US farmland, an area roughly equivalent to the size of Michigan.”
The new crops are ready for commercial deployment, pending review by the US Environmental Protection Agency. If approved, it will “demonstrate once again that biotechnology in agriculture is all about increasing pesticide use and dependence,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group that opposes the crops.
Roundup has been an linked to an extensive list of chronic conditions and diseases, according to Truthout, including ADHD, Alzheimer’s, autism, birth defects, cancer, heart disease and respiratory illnesses, among others.
At Monsanto’s annual meeting in St. Louis on Feb. 2, CEO Hugh Grant faced criticism from advocacy groups such Moms Across America, whose founder, Zen Honeycutt, took to the microphone and told Grant, “Stop poisoning our children.” Grant replied he was a father of three and that studies had shown “no linkage” between Roundup and the ills Honeycutt described.
The battle lines are drawn—and it’s not likely that Willie’s gang will see things the way Grant & Co. do, or vice versa.