Agricultural Biotechnology and the Use of Herbicides in US Agriculture

argylesock says… US agriculture has become dependent on genetically modified (GM, genetically engineered, GE) crops. Some of those crops have been engineered to resist the very popular weedkiller (herbicide) Roundup (glyphosate). But oops! Weeds evolve. Roundup Ready crops have paved the way for Roundup Ready weeds. Then farmers have to spray more herbicide. You can scroll down the article I reblog here to see maps of Roundup Ready weeds spreading across the US.

Global Food Politics

An interesting response to an earlier post on the limited consumer benefits of agricultural biotechnology led me in search of data on the application of herbicides and pesticides to genetically engineered crops. What I found paints a pretty bleak picture. The technology was developed with an environmental benefit in mind—by developing crops that were resistant to the application of wide-spectrum herbicides like Round Up, the total amount of herbicides applied to any crop would be reduced. Similarly, the development of insect resistant varieties—like Bt cultivars—would reduce the need to apply various insecticides throughout the growing season, thereby reducing the total volume applied.

Early in their lifecycles, the genetically engineered varieties seemed to be living up to their promise. A study by Food and Water Watch, for example, finds that “Herbicide use on corn, soybeans and cotton did fall in the early years of GE crop adoption, dropping by 42 million…

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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