New Breed of Herbicide-Resistant Superweed Detected

Farmers in the United States are dealing with a new kind of danger: A new type of herbicide-resistant superweeds have spawned. Much like how heavy usage of antibiotics created strains of drug-resistant germs and bacteria, the continuous use of glyphosate, a type of weedkiller, has caused the creation of weeds that are immune to the poison.

Glyphosate, usually sold under the brand name Roundup, has been used by farmers for over 20 years. Genetically-modified crops are immune to this weedkiller, making farmers confident enough to spray entire fields that would kill off invasive weeds while keeping the likes of soybeans, cotton, and corn intact. It degrades at a fast rate and, because farmers no longer have to plow the fields every season, cuts down on soil erosion, fuel cost, and carbon emissions.

The first sign of herbicide-resistant weeds appeared 10 years ago. It was largely ignored by farmers until at least 10 species of weed in 22 states have become resistant to weedkillers. This affects between 7 million and 10 million acres of land, which has prompted affected farmers to use stronger herbicides, plow the fields, and pull the weeds by hand. Such methods could increase environmental harm, lower yields, and rising prices.

Source:  The New York Times

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