viernes, enero 31, 2014

Herbicide-resistant Weeds Run Riot in the U.S.

Dear Friends and Colleagues
Re: Herbicide-resistant Weeds Run Riot in the U.S.  
A policy brief by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), entitled “The Rise of Superweeds – and What to Do About It”, has raised the alarm on ‘superweeds’ resistant to glyphosate over-running 60 million acres across the United States. The UCS cites three reasons for the emergence of the weeds: year after year of huge monoculture farming on the same land; over-reliance on a single herbicide, namely, glyphosate; and the neglect of other weed control measures. 
For almost two decades, farmers growing Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops, genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to glyphosate (sold as Roundup), have been spraying the herbicide with careless abandon. When resistant weeds emerged, they resorted to applying more and different herbicides. Overall pesticide use in the U.S. in 2012 was an estimated 404 million pounds greater than if Roundup Ready crops had not been planted.  Meanwhile Monsanto and other pesticide and seed companies are offering the next generation of GE seeds resistant to two older but more toxic herbicides, dicamba and 2-4D. The brief warns that“the use of multiple herbicides would speed up the evolution of weeds that have multiple resistances— a nightmare scenario for farmers who rely primarily on herbicides.” 
The UCS unequivocally recommends agroecology as the solution to the problem, citing studies that show that it can reduce herbicide use by more than 90% while maintaining or increasing yields and net profits of farmers. Agroecological practices such as crop rotation and using cover and weed-suppressive crops can also yield important benefits like increased soil fertility and water-holding capacity and reduce global warming.  
The UCS make specific recommendations which include providing governmental support to farmers who practice organic agriculture or who wish to adopt it; supporting multi-disciplinary research on integrated and alternative weed management strategies and promoting such practices amongst farmers; and bringing together scientists, industry, farmers, and public interest groups to formulate plans for preventing or containing the development of herbicide-resistant weeds.  
A blog article on this issue by Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist of the UCS, is reproduced below. The full policy brief can be downloaded from

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