Dramatic Increase in Weed-Killer Use in U.S.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Since the introduction of biotech versions of corn, soybeans and cotton on American farms in the mid-1990s, farmers are spraying less pesticide on their fields. That’s the good news. But, with the planting of genetically-engineered crops resistant to the weed-killer Roundup, farmers are using herbicides (weed-killers) more than ever.

Monsanto introduced the first genetically-engineered crop, Roundup Ready soybeans, in 1996. The idea was to create a crop that was tolerant to Roundup while killing the weeds around the crop. Currently, Roundup herbicide products account for almost half of Monsanto’s profits.
A new study produced by The Organic Center, the Union for Concerned Scientists and the Center for Food Safety shows that herbicide use grew by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008—and almost half (46%) of this increase occurred just within the past two years. The rise in herbicide spraying more than offset the decrease in insecticide use (64 million pounds), resulting in a net jump of 318 million pounds of chemicals applied to crops.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
The Seeds of a Monsanto Short Play (by Matt Cavallaro, Forbes)


BillF 14 years ago
jessej is repeating long-discredited myths about GM crops from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which represents Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow. For some facts, see: http://www.organic-center.org/science.pest.php?action=view&report_id=159. Please note that these companies are pesticide manufacturers that have bought up seed firms and now bring us GM seeds for use in tandem with their herbicides (one category of pesticide, by the way). They are not in the business of reducing their chemical sales, but increasing them. The Organic Center report noted above is by Dr. Charles Benbrook, formerly the top agricultural scientist at the US National Academy of Sciences. His report is based on USDA pesticide usage data - the best in the business. The biotech industry-funded front groups (PG Economics, NCFAP) upon which jessej's false claims are based completely ignore impartial USDA data and rely instead on make-believe "simulation studies" that are based on entirely false and unrealistic assumptions about pesticide use with GM crops. Most telling is that these industry front groups completely ignore one of the biggest stories in US agriculture -- the epidemic of Roundup-resistant weeds that are a direct consequence of the massive increase in Roundup use with the biotech industry's flagship GM "Roundup Ready" crops. The report thoroughly documents how the huge increase in herbicide use is mainly due to increased doses to control these increasingly resistant weeds, which now infest millions of acres of cropland. And biotech crops do NOT reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this is another lie. The latest research by the leader in this field, R. Lal of Ohio State University, shows that no-till farming (which is associated with chemical intensive Roundup Ready crops) does not store more carbon in the soil, as once thought. See "No-Tillage and Soil-Profile Carbon Sequestration: An On-Farm Assessment" in the May-June 2008 issue of Soil & Water Management & Conservation.
jessej 14 years ago
Decades of documented evidence show that agriculture biotechnology is a safe and beneficial technology that contributes to both environmental and economic sustainability. Since 1997, the use of pesticides on global biotech crop acreage has been reduced by 790 million pounds, an 8.8 % reduction. Through biotechnology, more specialized herbicides have been replaced by a smaller number of safer compounds with reduced environmental impacts. Thanks to biotechnology, farmers have adopted no-tillage systems which use herbicidal weed control rather than plowing. The benefits include improved soil health, water retention, reduced runoff, fuel conservation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. By a reduction in plowing, farmers use less fuel and store additional carbon on the soil. In 2007, this was equivalent to removing 31.2 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing around 6.3 million cars from the road for one year. Source- BIO.org

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