In its context (see highlighted below), the phrase seems to mean impossible, because it is then contrasted with the fact that over time, it is indeed possible for weeds to build in resistance to the weedkiller called glyphosate, but it is certainly a tricky question and who knows how exactly it was phrased? Fred gives it "half a Pineapple"; what do you think?
Aside from the fact that there are plenty of ways for food to be grown organically without the negative impact of chemical weedkillers and genetically engineered crops, a position that that the article appears to ignore. Glyphosate, also called "Round Up", is made by Monsanto and is banned in many countries for its potentially damaging effects on human health.
An excerpt follows below. If anyone knows what which particular questions followed, and if the passage was changed in any way, please put this in the comment section below. Also please offer any observations you have on the 3rd day of ELA testing. thanks!
Weed wars: farmers fight unwanted plants among crop
When Stanley Culpepper was a kid, he spent hours pulling weeds on his family’s farm. “We pulled and pulled and pulled,” he says.
Culpepper started weeding when he was only about 5 or 6 years old. As a teenager, he chopped big weeds down with a hatchet.
Culpepper loved working on the farm, but he didn’t like weeding. He became a scientist to figure out easier ways for farmers to control weeds. “I decided there’s got to be a better way than pulling weeds all your life,” says Culpepper, now a weed scientist at the University of Georgia in Tifton.
A lot has changed since Culpepper was a kid. About 15 years ago, many more farmers started using a chemical called glyphosate to kill weeds. It worked so well that many farmers thought their problems were solved. But recently, some weeds have become resistant to glyphosate, meaning it’s harder for the chemical to kill the unwanted plants.
Resistant weeds are a big problem. Some can grow 10 feet tall! Scientists have discovered that weeds use all kinds of tricks to fight glyphosate. If the problem gets worse, farmers might not be able to grow as many crops, or they will have to spend more money controlling weeds. Then food could become more expensive.
Farmers loved those glyphosate-resistant crops. They started planting more and more of them and using more and more glyphosate.
Winning the lottery
Some people thought glyphosate would work forever. But the weeds were evolving. That means their DNA was changing.
Once in a while, changes to a weed’s DNA would allow that weed to survive the glyphosate. The chances of changes like this were very, very small. But when farmers used glyphosate year after year on millions of hectares of crops, “what seems almost impossibly improbable becomes more probable,” Duke says.
Mike Owen, a weed scientist at Iowa State University in Ames, compares the process to a lottery. If one person buys a lottery ticket, his or her chances of winning are tiny. But when millions of people play, chances are good that at least one person will pick the winning combination of numbers. As weeds were sprayed with glyphosate every year, it was like billions of plants were buying lottery tickets over and over, trying to “win” resistance to glyphosate. Eventually, some weeds were going to hit the jackpot.
It didn’t take long for that to happen. In 1996, Australian scientists found a weed called rigid ryegrass that couldn’t be killed with normal levels of glyphosate. In 2001, a researcher in the United States reported another resistant weed, called horseweed. Now at least 21 weed species have evolved glyphosate resistance.....If farmers can’t control weeds and insects, they can’t grow as much food. And if they grow less food, food prices could go up.