Three stories have caught my eye, about Monsanto and its Roundup Ready System of products.
In case you’re not familiar: Monsanto’s Roundup is a herbicide—a weed-killer—that kills just about any kind of plant you don’t want. Roundup is what you spray on the sidewalk or driveway to kill grass and dandelions coming up in the cracks. You wouldn’t spray it on the garden, though, because it’ll kill almost everything. Roundup has been on the market since about 1976, and has been promoted as a safe, non-toxic and biodegradable product.
Meanwhile… in 1996, Monsanto began selling “Roundup Ready” soybeans. These are soybeans genetically altered so that Roundup doesn’t kill them. The combination of Roundup, and Roundup Ready crops, constitutes a system of agricultural weed control. A farmer plants a crop of Roundup Ready soybeans, and can then spray Roundup indiscriminately, to kill all the weeds in the soybean field, and only the weeds.
There’s more: read the whole article
After soybeans came Roundup-Ready alfalfa, corn, cotton, canola and sugarbeets; I believe they’re working on wheat. The Roundup Ready System produced substantial gains in agricultural productivity, and has been an immense commercial success (and revenue stream) for Monsanto.
The following stories have lately emerged, to cast a shadow over this happy state of affairs:
What’s interesting about this: there’s a stupendous amount of money at stake. If global agribusiness were to lose faith in the Roundup Ready System, Monsanto must surely face a big challenge to its business model, and global agricultural productivity may decline.