Food Chain Radio News
Food Chain Radio Show #1,008
Michael Olson, Author & Urban Farming Agriculturalist
Pests Vs Pesticides
The Evolutionary Race
Guest: Andy Dyer, Author Chasing the Red Queen
Which will win the fight for our food?
“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else – if you can run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all of the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
― Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, 1871
When genetically modified crops (GMOs) were introduced into agriculture, they introduced a new way for farmers to compete with pests for the growth and development of crops.
Some of the GMOs were infused with a bacterial poison that killed insect pests by dissolving their stomachs. Other GMOs were given the ability to withstand herbicides that kill the weeds that compete against the crops for nutrients, sunshine and water. Others still were given both the ability to kill insects and withstand pesticides.
This miraculous new technology allowed one farmer to grow thousands of acres of crops with no insects or weed pests. It made farmers very happy, and the owners of the genetics very rich. Today, GMOs are planted on millions of acres of U.S. farmland.
While the new technology killed many insect and weed pests, it did not kill them all. The ones that were not killed reproduced and their offspring spread across the land.
To compete against this new generation of resistant pests, GMOs were double and triple stacked with new capabilities. These new capabilities will kill more pests, but not all of them, and thus the race is on between pests and pesticides. And so we ask…