Palmer Amaranth: Is it a Supergrain or Superweed?

palmer amaranth photo

How could something so good be so bad? While quinoa has become a superfood, its close cousin is a superweed. It’s called Palmer amaranth and it’s resistant to pesticides. While we import quinoa from Peru and can’t get enough of this protein-rich staple, we can’t seem to get rid of Palmer amaranth.

It’s wreaking havoc on our nation’s farmland, specifically in Iowa. The superweed can grow seven feet tall and in the process it can sprout 600,000 tiny seeds. What’s more, Palmer amaranth is increasingly resistant to herbicides. As a result, farmers are using older, more toxic herbicides to kill it.

GMO crops maybe causing the resistance, though scientists haven’t proved this yet. But it has been shown that an over abundance of GMO crops and the use of glyphosate to control weeds, is making American farms toxic, dead zones.

“If we use one single system, one tool to control a pest, Mother Nature will find a way around that tool,” Brent Wilson, a technical services manager at DuPont Pioneer, tells the Register. “That’s just the law of nature.”

To fight the resistant weed, biotech companies are trying to come up with new seeds that are resistant to numerous pesticides in the hopes that they can just dump a variety of poisons into a field and it will somehow do the trick, according to TakePart.

“Stacking up tolerance traits may delay the appearance of resistant weeds, but probably not for long,” the Nature piece reads, reported in TakePart. “Weeds are wily: farmers have already reported some plants that are resistant to more than five herbicides. And with glyphosate-resistant weeds already in many fields, the chances of preventing resistance to another are dropping.”

In the end, it’s a side effect of trying to poison nature, which will find a way to survive. It’s the misperception that you can just kill off everything but the crop. A healthy soil ecosystem is a must to producing a healthy crop and superweeds like Palmer amaranth are just a byproduct of trying to work against Mother Nature.

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Image: Delaware Agriculture