Will next generation of herbicide-resistant crops cause more problems?

| | February 5, 2015
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The latest in a new generation of genetically engineered crops is poised to enter widespread use—and critics think they’ll cause more problems than they solve.

Proponents of the new cotton and soybean varieties, engineered by Monsanto to tolerate spraying with multiple herbicides, say they’re a much-needed tool and approved by the US Department of Agriculture approved the crops for use last month.

But others think the benefits will at best be short-lived. Weeds may soon become resistant to the new herbicide mixtures, resulting in new generations of ever-more-intractable weeds that will need to be controlled with yet more herbicides.

The cotton—technically known as MON 88701, or Bollgard II® XtendFlex™Cotton—can survive exposure to three herbicides: dicamba, glufosinate and glyphosate. The soybeans—MON 88708, or Roundup Ready 2 XtendTM Soybeans—withstand dicamba and glyphosate.

Existing versions of Monsanto’s cotton and soybeans are resistant only to glyphosate, better known by its trade name of Roundup.

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Whether farmers actually will use Xtend as one of many weed-control strategies, or simply recapitulate the mistakes made with Roundup Ready crops, is a nagging question.

Weed scientist Jason Norsworthy of the University of Arkansas believes Roundup’s lesson about the dangers of over-reliance was learned. “We are going to approach this with a different mindset than we did,” he said. “If you look back at what industry recommended at the time, it was: ‘Let’s rely on one herbicide, and not look at anything else!’ There’s not a company out there promoting that now. Companies and academia are strong proponents of multi-tactic resistance.”

Read full, original article: Monsanto’s Newest GM Crops May Create More Problems Than They Solve

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