Old herbicides enlisted in new 'war on the weeds'

May 23, 2012

The emergence of weeds resistant to the most widely used herbicide is fostering a new arms race in the war against these menaces, which cost society billions of dollars annually in control measures and lost agricultural production. That's the topic of a story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly magazine of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society.

In the story, Melody M. Bomgardner, C&EN senior business editor, points out that glyphosate – introduced in the 1980s – has been the best-selling for over a decade. The biotechnology giant Monsanto markets glyphosate as Roundup, and in the late 1990s began selling so-called Roundup Ready seeds, engineered to be tolerant to the herbicide. About 94 percent of soybean acres were herbicide-tolerant, as was 73 percent of cotton acreage and 72 percent of corn acreage, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That popularity fostered focused use of glyphosate instead of a range of herbicides, leading to the emergence of weeds resistant to glyphosate and a generation of farmers who aren't well versed in the full spectrum of weed management.

Companies like Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences are introducing crops engineered with resistance to other herbicides such as 2,4-D and dicamba. Bomgardner notes that farmers will still be able to manage most weeds through applications of glyphosate. For any resistant weeds that remain, they will have the option of adding 2,4-D or dicamba without worrying about damaging their crops. However, some scientists, farmers and activists worry that continued over-reliance on chemical herbicides will result in that are increasingly difficult to control.

Explore further: Law of the Sea authorizes animal tagging research without nations' consent

More information: War On Weeds - cen.acs.org/articles/90/i21/War-Weeds.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Herbicide diversity needed to keep Roundup effective

Jul 13, 2009

Using a diverse herbicide application strategy may increase production costs, but a five-year Purdue University study shows the practice will drastically reduce weeds and seeds that are resistant to a popular herbicide.

Farmers relying on roundup lose some of its benefit

Apr 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Roundup Ready crops have made weed control much easier for farmers, but a new study shows their reliance on the technology may be weakening the herbicide's ability to control weeds.

Which direction are herbicides heading?

Oct 11, 2011

2,4-D is coming back. What many might consider a "dinosaur" may be the best solution for growers fighting weed resistance today, said Dean Riechers, University of Illinois associate professor of weed physiology.

Leading crop scientist warns against herbicide overuse

Mar 02, 2012

Overuse of the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) has caused US crops to become infested with glyphosate-resistant weeds - and a world-leading researcher at The University of Western Australia is fighting to prevent ...

Recommended for you

How can we help endangered vultures?

Oct 24, 2014

Zoologists from the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin are proposing an ingenious idea to help conserve populations of African white-backed vultures. The iconic birds, which play a critical ...

Scientists work to save endangered desert mammal

Oct 24, 2014

Amargosa voles, small rodents that inhabit rare marshes of the Mojave Desert, have faced dire circumstances in recent years. Loss of habitat, extreme drought and climate change brought this subspecies of ...

User comments : 0