Dangers of Monoculture
Monoculture displaces naturally occurring species upsetting ecosystem
Proliferation of Roundup Ready corn in the US and the use of Roundup herbicide have severely decreased the area of indigenous milkweed needed for gestation of the Monarch butterfly.
Research has shown that bees fed pollen from a variety of sources have healthier immune systems than those fed on a single type. Recent reductions in plant biodiversity have reduced the range of pollen available to bees, and may therefore be linked to falling bee numbers caused by Colony Collapse Disorder.
Monoculture diverts natural resources to continue unsustainable agriculture practices
The Aral Sea, once the world’s fourth-largest lake has shrunk by nearly 90 per cent largely due to a Soviet project to boost cotton production.
A region’s Groundwater Footprint is the area required to sustain groundwater use and groundwater-dependent ecosystem services. Humans are over-exploiting groundwater in many large aquifers that are critical to agriculture, especially in Asia and North America.
In addition monoculture crops, touted as necessary to improve crop yields in order to feed the world’s poor, are themselves being diverted to non-food purposes such as corn-produced ethanol.
Monoculture creates over-cultivated strains of plants which are less resistant to unforeseen diseases and environmental changes
From the 19th century through the 1950s the main species of banana in commmercial cultivation was the Gros Michel which was rendered extinct by a soil fungus. A new similar strain of the fungus now threatens our current major cultivar, the Cavendish banana.
A fungus identified as “race T” of Helminthosporium maydis caused the Southern Corn Leaf Blight of 1970, which spread as far north as Minnesota and Wisconsin in four months, largely due to lack of crop biodiversity, ultimately wiping out 15 per cent of the nation’s corn crop.
Monoculture encourages more diseases, weeds, and destructive insects while increasing soil erosion.
Destructive organisms build up resistances over time to the changeless nature of a monoculture and their life cycles are never interrupted. Just as the heavy use of antibiotics has contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of Monsanto’s flagship weed killer Roundup has led to the growth of superweeds.
Monoculture, along with other modern farm practices, also depletes soil biota--both in mass and diversity--which decompose organic matter for fertilizer and bind soil particles. The result is a soil structure easily damaged by rain, wind and sun.