In several prior posts I’ve discussed the fact that genetically modified seed, designed to be weed or pest resistant, is merely an opportunity for the creation of poison-resistant superbugs and superweeds, through the process of natural selection. One way the chemical industry has attempted to delay this is through the use of “refuges.” The concept is that a farmer will plant a portion of his crop using seed that has not been genetically modified to resist pests (the “refuge crop”). The pests, the theory goes, would eat the refuge crop, rather than the frankencrop, thereby avoiding the opportunity to become resistant to the poison.
Consider the fairly ridiculous series of events this has caused with respect to GMO (genetically modified) corn.
Farmers who plant GMO corn are supposed to plant at least 20% of their crop with refuge (not genetically modified) seed, giving the rootworms and corn borers something nontoxic to eat, in the hopes that they’ll stay out of the GMO corn and not become resistant to it. Farmers who are caught not doing this two years in a row, theoretically lose permission to use GMO corn seed. Of course many farmers just ignore this requirement, which is not seriously policed. Consquently, as I’ve discussed before, the superbugs and superweeds emerge.
So now the chemical companies are developing seed mixes that will include some natural seed, mixed in with the frankenseed. The idea being that the bugs will eat the real corn thats growing among the frankencorn, and not become resistant. Sure….
And even as the scientists wiggle down into that rabbit hole, a new “problem” is developing. As I’ve mentioned before, corporate farms typically rotate soybeans behind corn (some other day I’ll talk about the increasing practice of planting corn on corn). Some corn seed is dropped during the harvesting process and stays behind in the fields. The next year, some of this seed germinates among the soybeans, producing “volunteer corn.” This volunteer second-generation frankencorn isn’t sufficiently toxic to kill the rootworms, though it is sufficiently GMO to–you guessed it–enable the rootworms to develop poison resistance when they eat it. Then, by the next season, the rootworms are happily munching away on the corporate frankencorn.
How might a chemical company deal with a problem like that? By developing new poisons, of course.
So now the chemists are cooking up herbicides designed to spray on Roundup-ready soybeans that will kill the Roundup-ready volunteer corn.
And on it goes….
Grace and Peace