First evidence that weed killers improve nutritional value of a key food crop

Jul 08, 2009
Use of certain weed killers on corn crops can boost levels of disease-fighting nutrients in corn kernels, researchers report. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Scientists are reporting for the first time that the use of weed killers in farmers' fields boosts the nutritional value of an important food a crop. Application of two common herbicides to several varieties of sweet corn significantly increased the amount of key nutrients termed carotenoids in the corn kernels, according to a study scheduled for publication in the July 22 issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

In the new study, Dean Kopsell and colleagues note that farmers grow about 240,000 acres of sweet corn in the United States each year, making it an important food crop. Corn is among only a few vegetable crops that are good sources of zeaxanthin carotenoids. Consuming carotenoid-rich vegetables may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (a leading cause of vision loss among older people), heart disease, and cancer, the study notes.

The scientists exposed several varieties of sweet corn plants to the herbicide mesotrione or a combination of mesotrione and atrazine, another commonly used weed killer, and harvested mature corn 45 days later. Herbicide applications made the corn an even-better source of carotenoids, boosting levels in the mature kernels of some varieties by up to 15 percent. It specifically increased levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, the major carotenoids in sweet corn kernels, which studies have linked to a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration.

More information: "Increase in Nutritionally Important Sweet Corn Kernel Carotenoids following Mesotrione and Atrazine Applications," Journal of Agricultural and Chemistry

Source: American Chemical Society (news : web)

Explore further: Science to the rescue of art

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How sweet is it?

Nov 05, 2007

We love it fresh, canned and frozen. It's grown in every state, and according to a recent study published by the American Society of Horticultural Science, adds up to a whopping $807 million per year industry in the U.S. ...

Can hemp help the everglades?

Aug 06, 2007

Within Southern Florida, soil and water conditions indicate potential for leaching from the use of atrazine-based herbicides in corn crops. Scientists from USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University ...

Herbicide-tolerant crops can improve water quality

Apr 22, 2008

The residual herbicides commonly used in the production of corn and soybean are frequently detected in rivers, streams, and reservoirs at concentrations that exceed drinking water standards in areas where these crops are ...

Fingerprinting fake coffee

Sep 03, 2007

With prices of gourmet coffee approaching sticker-shock levels, scientists in Illinois are reporting development of a method to “fingerprint” coffee to detect when corn has been mixed in to short-change customers. Their ...

Recommended for you

Chemical biologists find new halogenation enzyme

11 hours ago

Molecules containing carbon-halogen bonds are produced naturally across all kingdoms of life and constitute a large family of natural products with a broad range of biological activities. The presence of halogen substituents ...

Protein secrets of Ebola virus

16 hours ago

The current Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which has claimed more than 2000 lives, has highlighted the need for a deeper understanding of the molecular biology of the virus that could be critical in ...

Protein courtship revealed through chemist's lens

16 hours ago

Staying clear of diseases requires that the proteins in our cells cooperate with one another. But, it has been a well-guarded secret how tens of thousands of different proteins find the correct dancing partners ...

Decoding 'sweet codes' that determine protein fates

18 hours ago

We often experience difficulties in identifying the accurate shape of dynamic and fluctuating objects. This is especially the case in the nanoscale world of biomolecules. The research group lead by Professor Koichi Kato of ...

Science to the rescue of art

Sep 14, 2014

Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers" are losing their yellow cheer and the unsettling apricot horizon in Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is turning a dull ivory.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rcramer2001
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 08, 2009
this is absolute GARBAGE, not news PURE PROPAGANDA put out and no doubt funded by the American Chemical Society. PHYSORG is NOTHING but a bunch of industry SHILLS. you should be ashamed of yourselves
rgw
5 / 5 (3) Jul 08, 2009
Thanks for the intensive analysis based on upper case type
Doug_Huffman
5 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2009
Yes, it is definitely not watermelon approved propaganda.