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: Fears for pink iguanas as Galapagos volcano erupts

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

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

New book promotes care for Earth's treasures

1 hour ago

A new and comprehensive book on how to care for the world's great natural and cultural treasures protected in national parks, written by experts from around the globe, will be launched at The Australian National ...

Research helps support Indian Ocean sanctuary

3 hours ago

Research by scientists at the University of St Andrews, published today in PLOS One, proves that the Vamizi Island marine sanctuary, in the north of Mozambique, has had a positive effect on fish populations not only within ...

Fears for pink iguanas as Galapagos volcano erupts

18 hours ago

A volcano in the Galapagos islands erupted for the first time in more than 30 years Monday, sending streams of lava flowing down its slopes and potentially threatening the world's only colony of pink iguanas.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.