Respect the Weed: My New York Times Story on One of Evolution’s Champions

For 10,000 years, we’ve created a new evolutionary arena where a new kind of plant has evolved: the weed. In today’s New York Times, I talk to evolutionary biologists who are studying how weeds first arose, and the marvelously devious strategies they’ve evolved to thrive on farms. You may have be seeing headlines these days about how GMO crops are creating “superweeds.” The new generation of resistant weeds is definitely a serious problem, but it’s not some new Frankensteinian phenomenon. Weeds are just doing what weeds have done so well before. Understanding their evolution may help farmers fight them more effectively and safely. Check it out.

There are 5 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Dean Cook
    July 16, 2013

    When re you going to realize the evolution always win. By using herbicides and pesticides we create so much evolutionary pressure weeds and pest will adapt faster then ever. We need large scale agriculture so what do we do? Here is an idea.

  2. Kudzu
    July 18, 2013

    @Dean Cook for many, many species each day we win. We’re so successful at winning in fact that we have to spend money to stop many species from losing the competitive battle forever.

  3. Tish Packman
    July 19, 2013

    Somtimes weeds are there to help with a problem created by humans. Think alfalfa on the plains – it overgrows to bring minerals from deep down up to the surface to remineralize what we humans have depleated through agriculture. Think nettles at river banks – doing the same thing to keep the minerals from washing into the streams. We just don’t look beneath the surface. Why is the weed there and how is it working would be better questions than how do we get rid of it.

  4. Dean Cook
    July 21, 2013

    The Campaign to end Herbicides has moved to

  5. Dean Cook
    July 21, 2013

    @Kudzu Using herbicides and pesticides is the farming equivalent of carpet bombing in the military. My suggestion is to stop carpet bombing and us a few snipers instead. To target what want to eliminate and leave the rest untouched.

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