Louisiana Attacked by Evolution

The gods have a wicked sense of humor. That is quite evident in a press release we found from something called PressZoom, which was “created to enable companies, universities, research centers, government agencies and other organizations to distribute press releases and breaking news to the media.” They also say: “Basic news releases cost US $19.” That seems amazingly legitimate, so we’re taking this seriously.

Thanks to their service, we bring to your attention an item titled Louisiana farmers face added cost of battling resistant weeds. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Tests by the LSU AgCenter have confirmed herbicide-resistant pigweed at three locations in north Louisiana.

Pigweed? Egad! Here’s a link to the LSI AgCenter. They have the same story with the same title at their website, but we’ll stick with the press release, without which we wouldn’t have known about this news. Let’s read on:

“We’re evaluating alternative weed control programs,” said Jim Griffin, LSU AgCenter weed scientist. “We’ll assist growers in planning control programs where weed control issues have occurred.” Two of the fields were in Tensas Parish, and the third was in Franklin Parish. All three populations are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, which includes Roundup as well as many other glyphosate products.

[…]

Several states from Iowa to Georgia, including Arkansas and Mississippi, have had severe outbreaks of herbicide-resistant weeds, including pigweed, specifically Palmer amaranth.

As you’ve come to expect, your Curmudgeon provides a link to additional information: Amaranthus palmeri. We continue with the press release:

Griffin said it’s not a surprise that the problem finally surfaced in Louisiana. “It was not a matter of if, but when.” Griffin explained that herbicide resistance is the result of accelerated evolution.

Evolution? Oh no! All over Louisiana the citizens must be scratching their heads and wondering: “How did this happen to us? We’re an officially creationist state!” (See Who Sucked the Brains out of Louisiana?).

The press release then gives a fine description of natural selection:

“The process begins with just a few plants with the genetic capacity to survive the herbicide treatment. It is believed that these plants, which occur naturally in the population at a very low level, are not a result of genetic mutation caused by the herbicide. These inherently resistant plants, when exposed to the same herbicide over several years, produce seed. Over time the population slowly shifts such that the resistant weeds become dominant. Since this process is slow, the producer may not notice the problem until large scale weed control failures occur,” Griffin said.

This is an outrage! The legislature and the governor of Louisiana have taken heroic steps to assure that creationism is taught in their schools. Evolution isn’t supposed to happen there.

Okay, enough sarcasm. There’s a great deal of information in the press release about pesticides and weed control, so if you’re interested in such things you should definitely click over there to see what’s going on.

Aside from the agricultural consequences of this issue, the lesson for Louisiana is this: You can elect stupid legislators, you can ban books, you can indoctrinate your children — but you can’t cheat on reality. Like her or not, reality is the gal we’re stuck with, and she’s the most jealous of all mistresses.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Louisiana Attacked by Evolution

  1. They always knew that evolution was evil.

  2. “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”
    -Richard Feynman, Challenger Shuttle disaster report.

  3. I remember my mom collecting this green for boiling as a spinach substitute. She only picked it at roadsides, not from fertilized fields. Now I know why. Maybe we should advise Louisiana to go back to their REAL roots and grow this as a crop! Of course that wouold be “us” being kind and generous to “them.”

  4. C’mon now, You know that everyone from flaming flat-Earthers to old-earth-common descent accepting IDers like Behe, will whine that it’s just “microevolution.”

  5. Gabriel Hanna

    People starved when the Soviet Union rejected Darwinian evolution and applied Lysenkoism to its agriculture.

  6. Benjamin Franklin

    Is “pigweed” cultivated from the seed of Ken Ham?

  7. The ID advocates will state that the genetic information was already in the population, albeit in a small number of plants, therefore no mutation, no new function, no evolution.

    They will see this as support for ID, not evolution.

  8. Gabriel Hanna

    Clearly the plants were designed by God to have the capability to include new information in their genome. (They actually say this about nylon-eating bacteria.) The only difference between creationism and evolution is that creationists know that God intended evolution–He wanted everything to appear to be evolving, for some reason.

  9. Is “pigweed” cultivated from the seed of Ken Ham?

    Well done, Ben!

  10. Natural selection strikes back. What goes around comes around. Ha! Ha! Ha!

  11. And of course, this shows that we’re in the real LA LA Land. Its not just Calif. any more.

  12. retiredsciguy

    Ed says, “The ID advocates will state that the genetic information was already in the population…”

    Well, sort of. But it took the mix ‘n match of sexual reproduction to get the genes to fully express, which is really the way evolution works, more so than just mutation. Evolutionary changes that occur in organisms that reproduce exclusively by asexual means are limited to mutation, whereas sexual reproduction virtually guarantees that each individual organism within a species will have unique DNA, which greatly speeds up the rate of evolutionary change. (In fact, it’s probably the advent of sexual reproduction that brought about the Cambrian Explosion, but that’s another story.)

    Pigweed becoming resistant to glyphosate probably happened something like this: some pigweed plants on the fringe of a treated area may have had a slight tolerance to glyphosate, and survived the light dose received on the fringe. Pollen from some slightly resistant plants fertilized other tolerant plants, and their seed begat a more resistant generation, and so on and so forth.

    Alternatively, maybe the glyphosate resistance that Monsanto genetically engineered into soybeans somehow jumped over to the pigweed. Perhaps carried by a virus?

    At any rate, as we have learned with antibiotics, nothing works forever. It’s evolutionary, my Dear Watson. And as for IDers like Behe whining that it’s just “microevolution”, you don’t need a microscope to see a pigweed plant. Besides, what’s the difference? On the scale of the universe, we are all just the result of “microevolution”. In fact, since all life is controlled by DNA, which of course is microscopic, ALL evolution is “microevolution”.