‘Superweeds’ that have developed resistance to glyphosate herbicide

12 Dec

UCS logoDr Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist in Washington’s Union of Concerned Scientists Food and Environment Program, sends news of a new short paper released yesterday on resistant weeds: The Rise of Superweeds–and What to Do About It . Additional emphasis is placed on  viable alternatives to HR crops.

The Union of Concerned Scientists aims to put rigorous, independent science to work to solve the planet’s most pressing problems.

Tackling the Epidemic of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds with Sustainable Solutions is  a blog by Dr Gurian-Sherman which relates to the paper.


 Palmer amaranth, also known as pigweed, infests a soybean field. Photo: United Soybean Board/Flickr

Palmer amaranth, also known as pigweed, infests a soybean field. Photo: United Soybean Board/Flickr

Weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate herbicide used with Monsanto’s engineered herbicide resistance trait have reached epidemic proportions. A recent survey puts the area infested by these weeds at 61 million acres, and increasing rapidly.

Glyphosate resistant weeds have resulted in greatly increased levels of herbicide use, and an estimated 404 million pounds more pesticide (when insecticide savings from Bt GMO crops are counted) than may have been the case without these crops.

They make it harder to grow crops, adding substantial expense and reducing yields, and are leading to increased tillage, which reduces soil fertility and leads to soil loss from erosion. 

The author, Dr. Gurian-Sherman, holds a doctorate degree in plant pathology from the University of California at Berkeley. He conducted post-doctoral research on rice and wheat molecular biology at the U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory in Albany, California. Earlier he was senior scientist at the Center for Food Safety in Washington, DC. Before that, he was founding co-director and science director for the biotechnology project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. He has also worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where he was responsible for assessing human health and environmental risks from transgenic plants and microorganisms and developing biotechnology policy. He worked in the Biotechnology Group at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and has served on the Food and Drug Administration’s inaugural advisory food biotechnology subcommittee.



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