For farmers, protecting fields from pests and plagues is a constant battle fought on multiple fronts. Many insects have a taste for the same plants humans do, and pathogenic microbes infect leaves, shoots and roots. Then there are the weeds that compete with crops for soil and sun.
Although academics and companies are looking for technical alternatives such as sprays made from biological compounds, a recent review by researchers at North Carolina State University cautions that society may not be able to science its way out of this thorny problem. There is a “considerable chance,” the authors write, “that the evolution of pest resistance will outpace human innovation.” Addressing the situation requires a collective effort between funding agencies, regulators, farmers and others, the authors add in the review, published in Science.
Herbicide resistance dates at least as far back as the 1950s. But the idea that weed control is a collective problem requiring collective action emerged relatively recently, says George Frisvold, an agricultural and resource economist at the University of Arizona, who was not involved in the new review. “People thought that weeds aren’t as mobile as insect pests,” Frisvold says. “But then more and more research came out to suggest that even if they aren’t as mobile, they’re still mobile enough” to spread resistance.
Read full, original article: Weeds Are Winning in the War against Herbicide Resistance