What do GMO crops have to do with herbicide resistance?

| | November 6, 2015
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Lately, we’ve been hearing media reports about more and more weeds becoming resistant to herbicides.

To shed some light on the issue, we reached out to L. Val Giddings, PhD, an independent consultant with PrometheusAB, Inc.

How does biotechnology affect resistance?

There is nothing about crops improved through modern biotechnology that impacts resistance/tolerance any differently than with crops derived through traditional breeding.

What are “superweeds” and how do they relate to crops grown using biotechnology?

“Superweed” is a term widely used in the media, but rarely by weed scientists. It is often used to describe weeds tolerant, in particular, to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.

The term is also used often to suggest herbicide-resistant weeds are new and specific to “GM” crops, though neither is accurate.

Related article:  GMO sustainability advantage? Glyphosate spurs no-till farming, preserving soil carbon

With the dramatic increase in the use of glyphosate-tolerant crops, weeds tolerant to glyphosate, once rare, have become more common.

What is most misunderstood about resistance?

  • Herbicide-tolerant weeds are not new — they’ve been well-known and understood for decades.
  • Herbicide-resistant weeds are not caused by GM crops. They result from weeds with natural genetic immunity, or that have adapted to the prolonged use of one herbicide to control the same population of weeds over a number of years.
  • Herbicide-tolerant weeds can still be controlled, either through rotating with alternative herbicides, crop rotation, green mulches, cover crop management, or mechanical cultivation.
  • Herbicide-resistance traits in crops allow growers to incorporate additional herbicide options into their weed management programs and could actually reduce the rate at which weeds evolve herbicide resistance.

Read full, original post: Weeding Through the Facts on Herbicide Resistance: An Expert Q&A

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