Note: This is the same line of thinking followed by the GE tree industry. Creating herbicide resistant or pesticide producing trees will not decrease the amount of herbicides and pesticides used in industrial timber plantations. Instead, it will create resistant weeds and pests, requiring new herbicides and pesticides. This, of course, is actually good news for the biotech and chemical industries, since their profits will increase when growers have to buy new and more chemicals, or more high tech seeds and seedlings, to deal with the supposedly ‘unforeseen’ consequences of previous seed traits. As they say, capitalism is a pyramid scheme.
-The GJEP Team
December 31, 2013. Source: Third World Network Biosafety Information Centre
A new study by U.S. scientists warns that agricultural weed management through herbicide-resistant crops is an unsustainable pathway. Over the years, Monsanto has heavily promoted the massive use of its glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide in conjunction with its genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready crops while denying that weed resistance would ensue. By 2012, however, the reported acreage infested with glyphosate-resistant weeds in the U.S. had risen to 61.2 million acres from 32.6 million acres in 2010.
In response, agri-business corporations are developing crops that are genetically engineered to be resistant to both glyphosate and synthetic auxin herbicides such as 2,4-D and dicamba. Scientists have documented that non-target terrestrial plant injury was 75 to 400 times higher for dicamba and 2,4-D, respectively, than for glyphosate.
The researchers categorically state that the continual insertion of more genes into crops is not a sustainable solution to herbicide resistance and call this the ‘genetic modification treadmill’, similar to the ‘pesticide treadmill’ that was introduced in the mid-20th century. They warn that this ‘single-tactic approach’ is likely to make the problem worse by increasing the severity of resistant weeds as well as will facilitate a significant increase in herbicide use with related potential harmful effects.
The report discusses these risks and presents alternatives for research and policy. In particular, the team recommends integrated weed management characterized by reliance on multiple weed management approaches that are firmly underpinned by ecological principles and which has been shown to reduce herbicide use by as much as 94%.
The full paper can be accessed from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/bio.2012.62.1.12