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Texas Roundup Showdown: Cotton Versus Wine Growers

Monsanto_roundup_all_usThank you to Laura Hayes for sharing these stories.  Pesticides rear their poisonous heads again. Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill have written about the insidious interaction of pesticides and mercury and viruses as part of the autism and polio epidemics. Pesticides were the focus of the mysterious illnesses in upstate NY high school females a few years ago.  Monsanto Roundup is the focus of this Texas brawl: cotton versus wine grapes.  And in a hideous tragedy in Amarillo, four children were killed when someone mixed water with a  dangerous pesticide, creating a poisonous gas.

From The Texas Tribune

Competing against millions of acres of cotton, winegrowers fear federal approval of new herbicides to be used on genetically modified cotton seeds will wipe out the wine industry in the Texas High Plains. 

As Paul Bonarrigo watched his grapevines dwindle, he was confident that heavy-duty herbicides, probably sprayed on crops by a nearby farmer, were drifting into his vineyards. For the past two years, his 44 acres in Hale County — once sprawling vineyards providing fruit for Bonarrigo's Messina Hof Winery — have not produced any grapes as they wither from chemical damage.

Other Texas winegrowers have seen similar damage, and they blame it on dicamba and 2,4-D, two high-volatility herbicides commonly used on cereal crops, pastures and lawns. Now, the state's vintners are alarmed that use of the chemicals may soon expand to include 3.7 million acres of cotton fields in the High Plains, where cotton is being invaded by weeds immune to the Roundup pesticide long used...  Read more here.


Jeannette Bishop

Regarding recently published GMO corn research:



Thanks Hera;
They won't let them burn, so they have to spray! Wow! I am sure it is all linked to some idea and I believe misplaced about global warming - that was changed to global change.

They have planes in the air- that is a lot of area being sprayed.
Thank you for explaining to me how much is being sprayed out there! WOW!

Thistles die fast from round up too. But you got to get them before they go to seed or like the hemlocks, they love that bare ground. I cannot believe you have those old hemlocks too. Hate those things.
Russian knapweed, field bindweed, skeleton weed, I look forward to looking them up.
I think you live in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, or Illinois. IF you live in Illinois please explain why the S is silent? LOL just kidding.


Sorry; managed to get that last sentence in the wrong order. Think I must be getting tired/ and bad at reading over before posting....


Hi Benedetta; |
Sorry I was thinking of something else when I said neonic sprays. They are used in most nurseries to kill aphids etc and stay in the plant a long time ( some times for years) and have been implicated in bee deaths.
Re what drifted down the hill; don't know , but am guessing it might be this:


So called "killer compost" has been in our area, one friend got a load of it at one point. If you can grow lettuce or tomatoes okay in the soil, then its fine, which is a useful test. If you do have it , corn will still grow in it. It can take years to clear out of the soil.
By the way, checked into the horse tails you mentioned; seems like they like moist soils? Summers here are hot and dry, so probably why we don't have an issue with them. Glad they don't grow here!

Whatever it was, it sure is a) effective/devastating and b) stays around in the soil for a long time.


Hi Benedetta; by the way, I meant the weeds were herbicide resistant, not pest resistant.

If I had to guess what took out the hill slope, I would suspect it was one of the new neonic sprays, made much too strong. Reason being; the apple trees and shrubs obviously survived decades of round up, so I am guessing it was something else.

Herbicide and pesticide errors do happen here; people are only human. Know of one person who lost his dog after it was outside during a spray. A friend of mine ( years ago) got coated in pesticides from a plane as she was beside her car. Had to change her clothes. We haven't lost any of the goats or sheep to spray, but we do try and get the goats under cover as soon as we hear the plane. One pilot sprayed the wrong field and killed someone else's stuff. I think he was reprimanded? Another farmer on the ground left the round up spray on ( he thought it was off) and took out quite a bit of someone elses field when he turned.

Good news though, I don't think the plane came over here last year. If if did, I wasn't home. I normally grab the kids and head out to town when you can smell the spray thick in the air. One of the farmers has had leukemia. The trouble is , no one really knows what else to do. Organic probably means leaving the fields fallow for years first. ( Five years of no spray before it can be certified organic,and then lots of hoops to jump through, I think?) No easy answers.


Hi Benedetta,
Thanks for your kind words about my apple tree:) i was kind of sad about all the shrubs, too; it used to be a pioneers farm, some old edibles had survived, and I was hoping they were one of them..

I an kind of vague about where I live for privacies sake on the internet, though I would be fine to message you more privately if you want.

I live zone 5/6, main crops around here are things like winter wheat, spring wheat, peas.Lentils I think too. Hardy stuff.
Before we moved in, the farmers had been spraying for thistles for decades on our property.. not sure what they are using, some is round up, some is stuff they have to get a special permit for.And there is the pesticide stuff too. The peas are often sprayed dead before they are harvested; huge fields of them. They used to burn the fields at the end of harvest, but now they aren't allowed to, and have to spray the fields. It is not their fault; they have to make a living, and don't know what else to do.
Because of decades of spraying , our weeds are some of the hardiest and most pest resistant around.
Mullen is a biannual; the second year it is very tall, and has medicinal uses, though not if it is soaked in herbicides and pesticides. Poison hemlock; yep , that is the stuff.
And the hemlock came back on the hill,even though the grass for the most part didn't for years. You are probably right about lack of competition, since nothing else much would grow there...The trouble is, when nothing else will grow, only weeds survive.
Horsetail isn't a problem here.it sounds nasty though. Thistles, russian knapweed, field bindweed, skeleton weed etc are our problem children.. One thing, the ground is so poisoned that when I was showing a friend a russian knapweed plant that needed to go, she said she had never seen one so stunted.
I got rid of a batch of thistles that had been getting sprayed and coming back for years.My goats took care of some, also my horses. I think the horses just mashed a big area of them into the ground in spring.

( The previous owner used to let them spray on the property. too.Been a long time since our land here was sprayed, now, but the drift still gets us sometimes. Last year was good though.I don't think they were using as many herbicides.)

When I first came here, there was lovely rich ground near the creek. I planned on planting vegies near there; a neighbour warned me that the pesticide run off down to the creek would make that a bad idea.

The trouble is decades of spray builds up to make poisoned ground. The first year they sprayed some thistles near the creek; thistles came back; the next year, the wild roses which I like still haven't moved back into that piece of land yet. I figure on hand pulling the thistles there, and hoping for the land to recover.
Hope this gives more info, will answer as best I can what you are interested in re this.


Hera; Where or what area of the United States do you live?

I am curious about the hemlock: Hemlocks that big tall poisonous of the carrot - parsley family dies right away from glycophosphate "round up" they cannot take it at all. . But the seeds of those plants keeps coming back, and they love to find empty, bare area with no competition. Is that what is happening ?

Mullen is that the fuzzy leaf plant, a silver green? It too likes to sprout in areas with little competition but it can't take glyco either.

Horse tails, it starts out with one straight plant with whorls of lancet leaves from the top all the way down to the ground will not be killed, but badly stunted by glyco. But geesh if not stunted - those things continue to grow and then start to branch out and becomes the size of a small tree. But horse tails is about the only thing that glyco seems to not kill, that and wild cedar (junipers).

Full grown maples; if one side is sprayed, or if the bottom leaves are sprayed, it takes on a trimmed hedge like state, does not even die back.

I am sorry about your apple tree.

I guess I am not understanding the extent or the large volume of spraying going on to cause drift of an entire hill side. Wow.


Hi Benedetta,

We have a big pesticide drift problem where I live.In fact a neighbor told us not to even try growing grapes. ( Actually though, I have a single grape surviving in a sheltered area protected by the house from the worst of the drifts.)
But we routinely loose plants to the pesticide spraying . The worst year was when it went down the hillside down from the field. A huge mass of shrubby trees ( wild hawthorns or service berries) and all the grass and weeds on the hill side died in days; ( except mullen; apparently it will survive anything.) An old apple tree partly died. And two years later, the area still wouldn't grow much, though water hemlock plants are also pretty hardy ( and deadly poisonous and extremely unwanted..)
The farmers here tend to have blinkers on; if it isn't a growing crop, then they figure it doesn't count. And even though we have asked them to let us know before they spray, so we can at least get the animals in, they forget.

They are great people, remove snow drifts from the driveway,and we really like them.
The pesticide residue has been building up in our heavy clay soil for many years. When you plant something, you dig out the soil and replace some of it. Most of my nieghbours who grow vegetables have replaced the soil. Either that or use tons of fertilizer. One friend had one of the farmers tell her that they have insurance, so let them know and they will replace plants; but most of us don't want to harass them because truthfully, what is the point? Money won't replace a huge apple tree, we just try and plant in areas further away from pesticide run off, and try and figure out what will survive.


Grapes are a sensitive plant. They are very particular and extra sensitive when it comes to mold and fungi.

And weather - weather is everything when it comes to grapes. Not just for the grapes but does the weather encourage or discourage the growth of fungi? I am not sure that his grape problems are all about drift. However: Maybe I don't understand the size and scope of what they are spraying?

If he is not spraying fungi pesticide everywhere; himself - Just saying wash grapes the most when you buy them.

Rebecca Lee

I read Silent Spring recently and I don't think much has changed or improved since then.

Bob Moffit

"As Paul Bonarrigo watched his grapevines dwindle, he was confident that heavy-duty herbicides, probably sprayed on crops by a nearby farmer, were drifting into his vineyards. For the past two years, his 44 acres in Hale County — once sprawling vineyards providing fruit for Bonarrigo's Messina Hof Winery — have not produced any grapes as they wither from chemical damage."

Unfortunately .. that corrupt .. damned swamp .. that our federal regulatory agencies have become .. will continue to protect Monsanto's Roundup all the while steadily ignoring the Bonarrigo's dying vineyards.

Which is no different than a mining corporation ignoring all the dying canaries in their profitable mining operation .. the minors themselves .. like Bonarrigo's dying vineyards .. be DAMNED.

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