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Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday




Thanks for the JK Rowling link. She'll be characterized as a bleeding heart liberal for that, but it was worth the read. I can wish that at least some conservatives will understand and agree with her position.

As for Limbaugh, does he believe in evolution? "Cause his tiny diatribe suggests that he does.

Norm: kudos for posting the NYTimes story on growing resistance to Roundup, since it seemingly runs counter to your narrative (from what I've read- I know you've written a lot on the topic that I haven't read).

To whit, in a recent comment you wrote:

I don't know if the economic advantage of being able to spray the entire field as opposed to a the additional labor of targeting only the weeds is an overall plus. Perhaps not, but we need the data not the hyperbolic fear-mongering we usually see.

So now we have seen the data, and it is pretty damning.

...and Monsanto is still equivocating.

I'm curious what effect this article has on your seeming enthusiasm for GMOs.

Excuse me if I am mis-characterizing your position- if so, I assume you will use a reply to set the record straight.

So now we have seen the data, and it is pretty damning.

Damning of what specifically? I don't see it as particularly damning, and while the article was more balanced than what we usually see there was a bit of fear-mongering. Terms like agent orange, and superweeds are hardly neutral.

I'm curious what effect this article has on your seeming enthusiasm for GMOs.

I'm still quite enthusiastic.

GMOs entail far more than roundup ready crops. It's not the crop that is the problem but the herbicide that leads to the resistance. So maybe what your saying is you don't think we should use herbicides.

That would be a reasonable view if you believe that we can meet the world's food needs with organic farming alone, and I don't. I believe we'll have to take the best methods available organic or otherwise to meet the world's needs. The problem with farming organically is that it requires more arable land and I don't think it is available unless you want to start cutting down the rain forests, and that doesn't seem like a good option. I suppose you could empty the cities sitting on arable land, but again that isn't going to happen.

Remember, whether you use herbicides or not you still have to deal with weeds, and whether you modify a plant to tolerate a herbicide or not the weeds will still eventually become resistant to it. So it's not a GMO issue as much as it's the use of herbicides.

Thanks to evolution, the battle against weeds is a never-ending one.

I'm still quite the novice in this area and so I ask questions of others more knowledgeable than myself.

Anastasia at has some interesting thoughts on the subject and they make sense to me.

First, please note that I am not a weed scientist. I’m a reasonably well informed novice when it comes to herbicide resistance. I did, however, receive formal training in pesticide use, function, toxicity, etc and have previously been a Dept of Defense Certified Pest Controller in a past life. . .

I think it would be better to rotate herbicides (and herbicide resistance traits). With rotations, the likelihood of resistance developing decreases because you are changing up the evolutionary pressure rather than keeping it steady. Another potential prevention method might be some sort of refuge system, like not spraying one row in ten or something but I don’t know if that would work with weeds as it works with insect pests.

I have heard (from the chair of my agronomy department) that the big problem with Roundup has been improper application, with farmers spraying too late. They should be spraying when the weeds are little, tender, and easy to kill, but farmers have been waiting to spray (according to the dept chair) until the weeds are bigger. Unfortunately, then the weeds are stronger and more able to resist the herbicide, living to grow another day. This could be a problem with any herbicide but with Roundup there is the complicating factor that farmers can wait until the crops have sprouted to start their herbicide spray, which might be what’s letting them wait until the weeds are too big.

That said… Would Roundup resistance have happened without Roundup Ready crops? Yes, and it has. Herbicide resistance happens. Would it have been as widespread without Roundup Ready crops? Yes. If farmers widely apply any herbicide, resistance happens.

Check out the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds* where you’ll find that glyphosate (Roundup) is hardly the herbicide that’s had the most resistance develop. The worst offender is the class of pesticides that work by inhibiting acetolactate synthesis (including such pesticides as Telar, Glean, Corsair). These pesticides have 108 separate incidences of resistance developing, compared to Roundup (which is in the class of pesticides that inhibits EPSP synthase) which have 18 separate incidences of resistance. The list does seem to be current. If you click on any of the pesticide names you can find exactly which weed species are resistant to what and where, and if you click on a specific incident you can find more info including scholarly articles documenting resistance, if any exist.

  • This site looks quite legitimate, and the project is funded and supported by legitimate groups: the Herbicide Resistance Action Committee (HRAC), the North American Herbicide Resistance Action Committee (NAHRAC


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