The Growler

Lock-in: What to do when crop technologies fail?

• Genes from the bacterium Bacillus subtilis are being engineered into crops by large ag companies to make them resistant to pests or herbicides.
• ’RoundUp’ is the most common herbicide in use today and we are making crop plants resistant to it so we can use heavier doses of herbicides.
• The use of GMOs is very dangerous because it produces “lock-in”. 
• Cover cropping and other methods of mitigating weed growth are far more beneficial to the health of agricultural ecosystems.

Dr. David Mortensen, an expert on ecologically-based pest management, argues that our dependence on genetically-engineered (GE), herbicide-resistant crops threaten our ability to sustainably feed the growing world population.

He is a Professor of Weed and Applied Plant Ecology at Penn State University, and is an expert on ecologically-based pest management and sustainability. His work explores the interplay between the ecology of agricultural fields, field edges, and forest fragments. Practical applications include reducing reliance on herbicide use and making weedy plant management more sustainable.

Dr. Mortensen, argues that GM herbicide-resistant crops have created “lock-in” in our approach to agriculture, making it difficult to escape our dependency on these crops. Instead, he advocates redirecting our approach to agriculture with more thoughtful and ecologically informed systems thinking.