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There was an article in the Wall Street Journal a few months ago about the spread of superweeds that have developed resistance to common herbicides. This reminded me of the ongoing discussions of the use of herbicides and genetically engineered seeds, their pros and cons. The combination has the immediate benefit of allowing for mass production of food. However, we are still analyzing the health and environmental impacts of these products.

The article reported that superweeds with immunity to the wonder-herbicide Round-Up are showing up in more than 20 states in the Midwest and South. The number of weed species resistant to glyphosate herbicide like Roundup has increased over the past 5 years. It is predicted that some 40% of US corn and soybean farms will be affected by mid-decade. Farmers are now resorted to old herbicides of yester-years, even-more potent and worse for the environment, to control these weeds. Some of these herbicides are considered more dangerous to the environment because they can be picked up by wind more easily and hence spread to neighboring farms and vegetations more easily. Many chemical companies are working hard to develop new versions of these old-time herbicides as well as genetically engineered seeds that can resist these chemicals. After being over-shadowed by Monsanto's Round-up, other chemical companies are now seeing lights in the herbicide market for them.

Personally, I very much enjoy organic foods that are grown locally. Every summer, I long for the fresh smell of fruits and the abundance of vegetables in my CSA box. While I am bathed in the luxury and wealth of a developed country, I also recognize that I am only part of a small group of human beings on earth that can enjoy such privilege. Images of those suffering and dying from hunger, babies with bulge bellies and practically walking skeletons, are vivid in my mind. Many argue that we should pass on the western agricultural "technologies" so that more can be grown to feed the world. While chemical herbicides and genetically engineered crops, considering their long-term health and environment impacts, are not the ideal, neither is dying from hunger.

Is a life today worth more than a life tomorrow? The debate goes on. I love to hear other readers' thoughts on this topic.


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