Volume of use shows need for glyphosate

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A look at the volume of Roundup herbicide and generic glyphosate herbicide that is sold and the crops on which the use of glyphosate is registered, shows there is an obvious reason that future herbicide and herbicide-tolerant crops should also be approved for use with Roundup-tolerant crops, too.

Roundup/glyphosate herbicides are among the most widely used herbicides in the world. The use of Roundup expanded dramatically during the more than 15 years since the adoption of Roundup-ready genetically modified (GM) crops were introduced. During the 2000s, in the U.S. the use of Roundup more than doubled, from 85-90 million pounds in 2001, to more than 180 million pounds in 2007, noted Hector Valenzuela, University of Hawaii at Manoa, in a article posted on “Back 40 Forums.” Roundup is the most commonly used pesticide in the U.S., and it is also widely used in homes, gardens, and urban settings, something for which Valenzuela is most likely to be aware.

Reportedly according to Monsanto as of 2011 there were more approved uses for Roundup, than for any other herbicide. Roundup, also according to Monsanto, was being used in 130 countries and on more than 100 different crops.
Herbicide tolerance represents the main trait used on genetically modified crops. In 2006, the Roundup-tolerance trait represented 81 percent of the total acreage planted globally to genetically modified crops, representing more than 200 million acres. As of 2010, Roundup Ready varieties represented 90 percent of the soybeans and 80 percent of the corn acreage in the U.S. Roundup Ready soybean are the most widely planted genetically modified crop, accounting for 60 percent of the entire global acreage planted to genetically modified crops, Valenzuela noted with reference to worldwide sources.

“Conventional and GM or biotech crop farmers need alternatives to the use of Roundup, because important weed species throughout the world are increasingly showing resistance to the use of this herbicide,” Valenzuela wrote.

Weed resistance to Roundup may develop in as short as three to five years when Roundup Ready crops are grown continuously without rotations. Not only does weed resistance to Roundup reduce the efficiency of production and increases production costs, but farmland with populations of resistant weeds may result in lower leasing or rental rates because farmers won’t pay as much to farm such ground.

Alternatives to glyphosate herbicides are needed, but those have been slow to come since the first resistance was detected. Alternatives to glyphosate, but with the crop tolerance to both an alternative herbicide and glyphosate is the most logical solution to many resistant-weed problems.

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Kristof Nordin    
Holmen, Wisconsin  |  January, 07, 2014 at 12:43 AM

I'm not sure that I'm following your argument. You claim that first-generation 'Roundup Ready' genetically engineered crops have failed farmers by creating enormous problems with the rise in herbicide resistant weeds, so you are advocating for a second-generation of genetically engineered crops which are tolerant to even stronger herbicides--those you refer to as 'alternatives'? Basing your argument for the necessity of second-generation GMOs upon the sheer 'volume' of first-generation sales and usage is a bit like saying we should continue exploiting fossil fuels because there were a lot of gas- guzzlers sold last year. Problems of imbalances within pest, disease, and weed populations are a direct result of ecological imbalances within our current agricultural models. Solutions do exist, but it is going to take a paradigm shift in the way that we have thought about agriculture since the onset of the Green Revolution and a willingness to explore true 'alternatives' which actually present ecologically restorative solutions. Are we willing to continue down the same unhealthy path until we find ourselves debating the necessity of third-generation chemical-tolerance? Hopefully, long before that, we will come to the conclusion that it is not the plants that need to adapt to an unhealthy system, but rather the system itself which needs to be addressed.

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