Gigantic Monstrous Organisms

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•12

In the August issue of The Lowdown we published an article about the fear that many Zambians, justifiably, have that the introduction of GMO plant varieties will contaminate our local maize varieties resulting in a negative impact on food production and food security in Zambia. This not impossible scenario would enslave our farmers, and thus our future, to the big multinational producers of GMO seeds, amongst others behemoth biotech firm, Monsanto.

Since then, in early September, it has come to the fore that farmers in the USA who have been planting Monsanto genetically modified seeds have now become the victim of insects and weeds which have developed resistance to these genetically engineered plant varieties.

Farmers in the USA have, since 2003, been planting a Monsanta supplied maize variety engineered to produce insecticidal toxins to fight the destructive corn rootworm. That was until now when a report by researchers at Iowa State University showed that some farmers’ crops were being attacked by a corn rootworm that had developed resistance to the insecticide produced by the plant. Should this spread, the havoc that could be wreaked on American farmers is too awful to contemplate. According to Monsanto, last year, more than 37 million acres of this maize variety was planted in the USA. The US Environmental Protection Agency is planning a comprehensive review and may ban sales of the seed if this is confirmed.

Monsanto products are also implicated in the appearance of what is being termed ‘superweeds’. First is their product, marketed under the tradename of Roundup or its scientific name of Glyphosate, a broad spectrum herbicide killing annual broadleaf weeds and grasses. Roundup became extremely popular after its introduction in the 70’s and was the most used herbicide in the USA and the second most used herbicide in the home and garden market sector. Then came Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed varieties which were known as Roundup Ready as it enabled farmers to apply the herbicide once their crops were already growing, enabling them to control weeds which appeared after emergence of the crop.

A recent study has found that some weed species have become resistant to Glyphosate – more than 11 million acres of food crops in the USA. Some are calling it “the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen.”

In addition to the appearance of superweeds, some scientists believe that Glyphosate is threatening the crop-yielding potential of the entire ecosystem. A recent report has revealed that this chemical may have an irreversible devastating effect on the micobiodiversity of the soil, compromising the health of the entire planet by altering and, in some cases, destroying the benefits of raw and fermented foods including beneficial strains of bacteria such as the culture used for raw yoghurt.

Thus, where farmers are using larger and larger concentrations of Glyphosate to control weeds, they are causing greater and greater damage to the fertility of their soil and its ability to produce crops well into the future. If these trends continue, crop yields will drop and food costs will climb as weeds grow more difficult to eradicate.

Thus, claims by international corporations that genetically modified crops with their increased yields are the solution to world hunger and world food security may well be complete poppycock.

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