If you’re a farmer – or involved in the business of agriculture in any capacity – you’re probably aware of the debate surrounding Monsanto’s “Roundup mix Ready” Crops.
“Roundup Ready” crops are any crop that has been treated to be resistant to glyphosate – the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s “Roundup” weedkiller. This trait of glyphosate resistance allows crops to withstand the damaging effects of the weedkiller unscathed – providing higher crop yields and a better harvest, according to Monsanto.
However, there have been drawbacks and concerns noted about Roundup Ready crops. Many farmers claim that Roundup Ready crops don’t hold any major advantages at all – and instead are simply a way that Monsanto can increase profits, due to the fact that Roundup Ready crops are sterile, and their seeds can’t be replanted.
So to help you understand both sides of this debate, we’ve put together a list of the pros and cons of using Roundup Ready crops. Read on, learn more about this hot-button topic, and decide for yourself if Roundup Ready crops are worth your investment.
The Pros Of Using Roundup Ready Crops
While there are many criticisms leveled at Roundup Ready crops, they do offer a particular set of advantages that makes them popular among some farmers.
- Never worry about weeds again – This is the most obvious benefit. Your crops will resist glyphosate during the entire growing process – from seeding and sprouting to flowering and growing.
You can spread as much glyphosate-based herbicide as you want, and never worry about damaging your crops. This allows you to totally eliminate weeds from your crops, which can speed up harvesting and lower costs.
- Reduces the need to till fields – In the past, farmers had to spend a lot of time, effort, and energy tilling their fields, in order to get rid of weed seeds that may have dropped off and could regrow during the next planting season.
But because Roundup Ready crops can withstand glyphosate applications and most weeds can’t, farmers who use these crops can avoid tilling their soil, implementing conservation tilling methods to reduce expense and labor involved in excessive tilling of fields.
- Reduced erosion in fields – Tilling is a large cause of erosion in fields. Churning up topsoil means that it’s not firmly packed, and excessive rain can wear your soil down, and cause runoff and erosion. Because Roundup Ready crops require less tilling, you can prevent erosion in your fields, and maintain a healthier soil composition.
- Roundup Ready crops increase profits for some farmers – There is some argument here, but a 2009 study showed that Roundup Ready soybeans, corn, and cotton were associated with an increased profit of $20 per acre for soybeans and corn, and $50 per acre for cotton.
For certain farmers, using Roundup Ready crops can certainly provide higher profits – though the cost of Roundup Ready seeds and herbicide applications can reduce the total profit gained significantly.
The Cons Of Using Roundup Ready Crops
There are, of course, two sides to every issue – so now let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks of using Roundup Ready crops on your farm.
- You’ll use more herbicide, which can be expensive – The amount of glyphosate-based herbicides used in the agricultural industry has skyrocketed since the introduction of the first Roundup Ready soybeans in 1996. Today, over 185 million tons of glyphosate-derived herbicide are used each year in the agricultural industry.
This is because you must use these herbicides to gain any kind of advantage from Roundup Ready crops – after all, there’s no reason to buy a glyphosate-resistant seed if you’re not planning on extensive herbicide use. The cost of these seeds plus the cost of herbicides can add up – cutting into the advantages provided by Roundup Ready crops
- Roundup Ready crops are sterile – All Roundup Ready seeds are terminator seeds. They are sterile, and cannot be replanted, and you’ll have to buy new seeds from Monsanto every year to continue planting.
While Monsanto has a good reason for this – they don’t want their seeds to spread herbicide-resistant traits through wild crossbreeding and replanting – the fact remains that buying new proprietary seeds every year can be very expensive.
- Extensive use of Roundup could lead to increased herbicide resistance – This is the primary concern of many farmers who refuse to use Roundup Ready seeds. Over time, a significant variety of weeds have exhibited resistance to glyphosate products like Roundup, and overuse of these products could lead to herbicide-resistant “superweeds” that may spread through farms around America – even onto farms that aren’t using herbicides.
As of 2014, there were 15 herbicide-resistant weed varieties reported in the US, and 29 worldwide. As Roundup Ready seeds become even more common, this number could continue to grow.
Understand The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Roundup Ready Crops – And Make The Right Decision
There certainly are advantages that can be had if you choose to use Roundup Ready crops in your business – and there are also several drawbacks that you may encounter, should you choose to do so.
This is certainly a divisive issue, and we would recommend that you do your own research, using this article and the resources we’ve linked to, in order to determine whether or not you should use Roundup Ready crops.
Once you’ve learned about both sides of the issue, you’re sure to make the right decision for your business.