U.S. farmers spending more on herbicides as effectiveness of Monsanto's Roundup fades, helps create glyphosate-resistant weeds; herbicide-resistant weeds found in Australia, South America, China, survey says

LOS ANGELES , April 18, 2012 () – U.S. farmers are spending more on herbicides as the effectiveness of Monsanto Co.'s popular Roundup herbicide fades, USA Today reported April 17.

The use of Roundup, which was introduced during the 1970s, and Monsanto’s genetically modified Roundup Ready soybean, which was introduced in 1996 and is capable of withstanding glyphosate, has led to the creation of glyphosate-resistant weeds. According to the International Survey of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds, glyphosate-resistant weeds have been found in Australia, China and South America.

In order to combat glyphosate-resistant weeds, U.S. farmers are using higher levels of pesticides and have increased their rate of tilling. Tillage causes increased rates of soil erosion.

Center for Food Safety science policy analyst Bill Freese said that the increased use of chemicals among farmers in order to control weed could potentially have detrimental effects upon public health, particularly if these chemicals end up in our water and food.

Freese said that, although weeds have always developed resistance to herbicides, the weeds’ evolution rate has increased because people were using a single chemical— glyphosate—to control weeds. He added that the use of GM herbicide-resistant crops was not the way to go, and that it’s “just not sustainable."

Monsanto weed management technical lead Rick Cole said that company’s recommendation was for farmers to use multiple methods, including crop rotation, tillage, and more than one type of chemical, to combat weeds.

Cole added that Monsanto’s upcoming Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans will be resistant to both dicamba and glyphosate, which allows farmers to use multiple chemicals on their crops.

In addition to Monsanto, Bayer CropScience Inc. produces GM seeds varieties that are resistant to its Liberty herbicide, which, according to advertisements, can combat glyphosate-resistant weeds.

The primary source of this article is USA Today, McLean, Virginia, on April 17, 2012.

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