There is resistance that is developing around the world to glyphosate and we've known this since the early 2000s. It is indeed becoming a real problem. For example, Palmer amaranth is a weed that has become resistance to glyphosate. So, what do scientists do when this problem of resistance arises? The idea is to develop crops that are resistance to other pesticides. Ask: what other kind of technology can be invoked? Well, dicambais another pesticide. It is a herbicide, it is very effective. We know how it works chemically. oIt resembles auxin, auxin is a plant hormone. oThis is what plants generate and cause growth. Dicamba resembles it, the plants mistake it for auxin, and what happens is that they start to grow out of control. They grow so fast that there are not enough nutrients to support the growth and the plant, in this case the weed, dies But there are issues here, too. We have recently discovered that dicamba drifts. oThat is, you apply it to a field and you cannot control the fact that it stays only on that field. oFor example, when you spray a field, in this case it's soy, and the seeds have beenmade to be resistance to dicamba, some of the spray will drift onto neighboring fields and it may be that the neighboring farmer is not growing dicamba-resistant
soy, but is growing regular soy, in which case, the dicamba will destroy the crop and we already see evidence of this. So, already we see consequences of this where farmers are now suing Monsanto over this, what they call dicamba devastation. The company Monsanto and others argue that it is improper application of the technology, that farmers are spraying when they should not be spraying, that is, when the wind is too large, or too intense, and the temperature is not right, and Monsanto maintains that if instructions are followed to the letter, then there is no drift because theversion of dicamba that is being used here has been modified in such a way as to make itless volatile. The allegations, though, do not stop at drift. There's also the suggestion that dicamba is, quote, "Another Monsanto cancer-causing pesticide." The fact is that there is absolutely no evidence that dicamba causes cancer, none at all. The drift problem is a significant issue, but the cancer problem is not. Now, dicamba is not the only alternative to glyphosate, there's another one and that is 2,4-D. 2,4-D is a herbicide that has been used for a very, very long time and there are now 2,4-D resistance crops that have been developedJust like with glyphosate or with dicamba, the seeds have been engineered in such a waythat the plants that they give rise to can be sprayed with 2,4-D and they will not be affected, but any surrounding weeds will be.
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- Spring '11
- Genetically modified organism, Pesticide, glyphosate