As an old TV ad used to say: "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature."
Monsanto Company, however, still has not taken that smart advice. This giant chemical maker became a veritable Frankenstein in the 1990s, genetically engineering new organisms in an effort to fool Mother Nature for fun and profit.
But Momma got mad — and now she's kicking Monsanto's butt all across the country.
Here's the background: Monsanto marketed a weedkiller labeled "Roundup" to farmers. But the weedkiller also tended to kill the crops. Thus, Monsanto's mad scientists artificially manipulated the genes of corn, cotton and soybean seeds to produce crops that — hocus pocus! — could absorb mega doses of Roundup without croaking. These patented seeds, called "Roundup Ready," helped Monsanto continue to sell oceans of its weedkiller.
But Mother Nature's weeds are smarter than the Frankensteins in Monsanto's labs, and they've quickly evolved into tenacious superweeds that Roundup can't kill. There are now 10 resistant species of these superweeds infesting some 10 million acres in 22 states — and they're spreading.
Monsanto sold its Roundup Ready seeds as a miracle crop, charged far more for them, and scoffed at concerns that the weeds would adapt. But there they are, and farmers are now having to use extra-toxic herbicides to kill the aggressive mutant weeds that have invaded their fields.
The result is higher costs for farmers, lower crop yields, more poisoning of land and water, and a rising chorus of disgruntled farmers saying, "Some miracle, Monsanto — thanks for nothing!"
All of this because one arrogant, profiteering corporation thought it could fool Mother Nature. As an Arkansas farm leader says of Monsanto's role in creating the spreading superweed crisis:
"It's the single largest threat to production agriculture we have ever seen."
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.