News bites, June 2001

This article was originally published in June 2001

GE seeds and pesticides

Critics of biotech foods long have argued that herbicide resistant seeds are “a vehicle to increase pesticide and chemical sales.” There’s more evidence they’re right.

A new report shows that 11.4 percent more herbicides are used on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready™ soybeans than on conventional soybeans. In some cases, 30 percent more herbicides are used. The report relies on previously unreleased data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was presented by Dr. Charles Benbrook, formerly of the National Academy of Sciences.

In 1998, the Bureau of National Affairs reported that “glyphosate (Roundup™) use is currently growing at a rate of about 20 percent annually, primarily because of the recent introduction of crops which are genetically engineered to be tolerant of the herbicide.”

The Roundup Ready soybean is unaffected by the Roundup herbicide (glyphosate), so farmers can heavily dose their fields without harming their crop. Approximately two-thirds of all genetically engineered crops are altered to be resistant to herbicides.

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