May 23, 2012
New War On The Weeds, Old herbicides Used
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 herbicide 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.
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