Herbicide-tolerant GE Crops Create Resistant Weed Problems in the US
|July 15, 2013|
THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
Dear friends and colleagues
Re: Herbicide-tolerant GE Crops Create Resistant Weed Problems in the US
The US is the biggest global adopter of genetically engineered (GE) crops, of which the bulk comprises Monsanto’s Roundup Ready (RR) varieties that are tolerant to glyphosate. A recent study on herbicide-tolerant GE crops in the US examined US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, and has revealed that herbicide use has increased substantially since the latter half of the 90s. Alongside this, RR crops have given rise to a serious negative externality called ‘superweeds’ which are resistant to glyphosate and which cost farmers as much as USD12-50 per acre to get rid of.
Although initially dropping from 1998-2001, herbicide use in the US subsequently increased by 81.2 million pounds (26%) from 2001-2010 as farmers applied more herbicides to overcome glyphosate-resistant weeds. The total volume of glyphosate applied to GE corn, cotton and soy increased ten-fold from 15 million pounds in 1996 to 159 million pounds in 2012.
Glyphosate-resistant superweeds are appearing in more states across the country covering as much as 61.2 million acres. As of 2012, gyphosate-resistant waterhemp, Palmer amaranth and horseweed were found in 8, 12 and 21 states, up from 5, 8 and 12 states, respectively, 4-8 years earlier. In addition, the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds found three times as many multiple herbicide-resistant weed infestations in 2011 compared to a decade earlier.
The emergence of the resistant weeds has paved the way for the introduction of 2,4-D tolerant corn and dicamba-tolerant soybean. The application of these two herbicides is expected to increase dramatically in coming years. 2,4-D is a known endocrine disruptor and dicamba is a carcinogenic herbicide.
The study makes several recommendations, which include proper health evaluations of GE crops, better data collection, and the adoption of non-chemical best management practices to prevent weed resistance and control weeds on a long-term basis.
The full study by Food & Water Watch can be downloaded from:documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/Superweeds.pdf.
With best wishes,
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
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