It was revealed last week that China is dealing with an explosive infestation of the formerly inconsequential mirid bug in its orchards and cotton fields. The bug’s population exploded as a result of widespread planting of cotton that had been genetically altered to be resistant to the bollworm, formerly cotton’s worst enemy. Cotton farmers stopped spraying insecticides, since their plants shrugged off the bollworms, and thus allowed other insects, especially the mirid bug, to multiply without interference.
Throughout the American heartland, farmers who were persuaded to stop cultivating, stop spraying more toxic weed sprays and give their faith to Roundup are being overcome by resurgent weeds. One of them, pigweed, is a mutant monster that can reach seven feet in height and can ruin a combine. The high costs of the modified seed, the increasing cost of applying more and more Roundup to less and less effect, added to the need to resume tilling and the use of older chemicals, adds up to “…the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,” according to Andrew Wargo III, the president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.