The US is facing an epidemic of herbicide-resistant "superweeds" that some activists and researchers are blaming on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), an accusation rejected by industry giants.
According to a recent study, the situation is such that American farmers are "heading for a crisis".
Many scientists blame overuse of herbicides, prompted by seeds genetically modified to resist them.
"In parts of the country, weeds resistant to the world's most popular herbicide, glyphosate, now grow in the vast majority of soybean, cotton and corn fields," many of which were planted with seeds resistant to the weedkiller, said the study, published in the journal Science in September.
Earlier this month, the
Nearly half of all US farmers said they had "glyphosate resistant weeds" on their farms in 2012, according to the most recent review from agri-business market research firm Stratus.
That's up from 34 percent of farmers in 2011.
Glyphosate is the name of the most frequently used herbicide in the US and was created by agricultural biotechnology giant
Today, the US company markets it as Roundup while, among other versions, competitor
Still, the industry refuses to accept any responsibility for the "superweed" phenomenon.
"Herbicide-resistant weeds began well before GM crops," said a
"It happens naturally with all herbicide modes of action. The plants select for resistance over time," he said.
That's a view shared by researchers such as
Heavier doses of herbicides were used on fields that now harboured glyphosate-resistant weed, he noted.
A study published on the website of Pioneer,
But eventually, resistant weeds developed - "first in areas where glyphosate had been applied multiple times per season for many years", the study said.
Instead, they blame "weed management tactics chosen by farmers" who have in large numbers adopted genetically modified seeds alongside glyphosate marketed by
A spokesman for
Benbrook described a vicious cycle, saying "resistant weeds have become a major problem for many farmers reliant on genetically engineered crops, and are now driving up the volume of herbicide needed each year by about 25 percent".
"Many experts in the US are projecting that the approval of new multiple herbicide tolerant crops will lead to at least a 50 percent increase to the average application of herbicide," he added.
Earlier this month, the
Most Popular Stories
- 5 Notable Hispanic Technology Executives
- Top Hispanic Tech Companies Push for the Top
- Justin Bieber Loses Cool Over Selena Gomez
- Maya Angelou Cancels Milagro Gala Appearance Due to Illness
- GOP 2016 Hopefuls Face Off at CPAC
- 'Holy grail of guitars' OM-45 Deluxe Available in in NY Auction
- Russia, Crimea Discuss Referendum
- Daylight Savings Time Comes This Weekend
- Heavy Sanctions on Russia Could Backfire on West
- Lindsay Lohan, Jimmy Fallon Get Soaked on 'The Tonight Show': Watch