Corn field strangled by mutant crabgrass
Special to TPN — Farmers in the Midwest have been plagued by a mutant strain of crabgrass that threatens to reduce the annual corn harvest by 50 percent or more in coming years. The species, Digitaria sanguinalis, is found throughout the world. The seeds are actually harvested and eaten in parts of Central Europe, where it is known as Polish millet.
The mutant grows up to three feet per day in the hotter months and is both drought and frost resistant. To compound the negative effects of this invasive weed, it is unaffected by Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup®. Monsanto (NYSE: MON) has genetically engineered feed corn to be similarly unaffected by the herbicide. It is thought that excessive applications of Roundup® to corn fields for suppressing weed growth led to a “horizontal gene transfer” from Monsanto corn to D. sanguinalis.
Spokesperson Mais Konig denied any culpability on the part of Monsanto: “Monsanto has always maintained the highest standards in the seed corn industry. Farmers trust us explicitly. They have to. After all, we’re almost the only game in town.” Konig also denied that Monsanto has plans to patent the mutant crabgrass, although it is rumored that the Kellogg Company has been in conversations with Monsanto and has registered several trademarks, including Crabola Granola®, Crabby Energy Bars®, and Crabby Pop Tarts®.
Monsanto’s share of the world market for all farm seed is almost 30 percent, of which a major part is for feed corn and corn ethanol. Because of the possibility of a collapse in the 2013 yield, corn futures are up 46 percent, from $5.45 to $7.96 per bushel. Accordingly, Monsanto’s share price fell 14 percent to $84.24.