A chronology on GMO crops and resistant superweeds

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Dec 12, 2012 (4 years and 11 months ago)

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GMO Crops and
Superweeds:
Chronology

1982

In his book “
Altered Harvest
,” researcher Jack Doyle uncovers the chemical industry’s strategy with GMO
“herbicide tolerant” crops. The industry trade journal Chemical Week reported in July 1982 that
pesticide
companies were eagerly pursuing this application of genetic engineering because with
herbicide
-
tolerant GMO crops “The theory is that farmers would then be willing to use even more of the
weed killers….” A biotech consultant states that these GMO crops cre
ate “a complementary demand for
both the chemical and the seed,” and another notes that pesticide companies want the GMO varieties
to insure continued demand for their weed killers, noting that “They’re trying to cover themselves.”

In
November, the biotech

company Calgene announces it has developed a gene for resistance to
glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (Monsanto will later buy Calgene).
i

1995

Scientists note that weeds resistant to glyphosate (the active ingredient in Rou
ndup, Monsanto's
herbicide for use on the company's Roundup Ready crops) in Australia suggests that other weeds can
become resistant, especially with reliance on one herbicide with GMO crops.
ii


1998

A 2001 paper by an Iowa State University scientists note
s that farmers there identified poor control of
weeds with glyphosate on RR crops as early as 1998, and found resistant waterhemp and/or horseweed
even after a very short history of glyphosate use.
iii

A University of California agroecologist warns that “the
increased use of the herbicide [glyphosate] will
result in weed resistance” with the advent of GMO “Roundup Ready” crops.
iv

November 1998

An Iowa State scientist warns that reliance on GMO crops
used
with glyphosate will likely lead to
resistant weeds. He n
otes that "
Monsanto has taken a strong position stating that the likelihood of
resistance dev
eloping to Roundup is very low," but he predicts that "
It is likely that most growers will
have problems with weeds able to tolerate the normal use rate of Roundup

before Roundup resistant
weeds appear
."
v


2000

A
California farmer
found

horeseweed (mare's tail) surviving spraying with Roundup starting in 2000.
The
Associated Press

stated that by 2003

"...he had tripled the concentration of the herbicide, and had
doubled the applications, but the weeds were growing thicker than ever."
vi

March 2000

Glyphosate resistant horseweed (aka
marestail or Conyza canadensis
) weeds are confirmed throughout
Delaware

and soon after in NJ and Maryland.
vii



June 2000

Farmers and scientists find
"volunteer" canola (rapeseed) weeds that resist t
hree different herbicide
modes, created when by cross
-
contamination from GMO crops. It is described as

"the first documented
case
of gene stacking in canola occurring without deliberate human intervention."
viii


February 2001

A panel of Canadian scientists say that GMO canola is "beginning to develop into a major [weed]
problem," as the GMO crop invades other crop fields across the country. A University microbiologist
calls the GMO weed "a classic example" of a superweed.
ix

July

2001

Farmers in Canada report the widespread problem of GMO canola appearing as a weed in their fields,
even in fields where the crop was never
grown. One University scientist

states, "
What we’ve embarked
on here
[with GMO crops]
is a ve
ry big experiment.

We’re releasing these traits into the environment
and we’re assuming we’re going to be able to contain them and we can’t.”
x


August 2001

A news report notes a warning from Canadian scientists, whose research shows GMO crops can spread
superweeds and damag
e non
-
GMO and organic fields. Monsanto denies the findings, stating that
because glyphosphate does not linger in soil, weeds are unlikely to evolve resistance.
xi

Seeing a business opportunity created by superweeds from their GMO crops, Monsanto files a pat
ent
application for tank
-
mixing of any herbicides for use on resistant weeds in RR crop fields.
xii

February 2002

The biotech and pesticide company Syngneta
releases “guidelines” to deal with resistant weeds
xiii
,
recommending farmers use more Syngenta herbicides with their GMO glyphosate
-
resistant crops,
including paraquat, a chemical that is banned or severely restricted in a dozen countries and classified
by EPA as a possible carcinogen.

April 2002

Following co
nfirmation of glyphosate
-
resistant marestail weeds in Delaware and Tennessee, an Iowa
State scientists confirm they found "variabl
e response" to glyphosate in waterhemp

weed
s

in Iowa
fields, including no control in some fields.
xiv


December 2002

Monsanto
competitor Syngenta releases a paper stating that farmers may lose up to 17% of their land
value due to glyphosate resistant weeds from GMO crops.
xv

A farm journal reports that talks on g
lyphosate resistance
dominated a recent weed science meeting,
with upd
ates on resistant weeds in Delaware, Maryland,
Tennessee, Kentucky, southern Indiana and
southern Ohio
.
xvi

January 2003

An Iowa State scientist's update on glyphosate resistant weeds notes that

"With the manner that
glyphosate is being used in the Midwest,
resistance is inevitable. When resistance develops, we will
need to control these biotypes with existing herbicides
-

no new modes of action are coming down the
pipeline in the foreseeable future....there can be significant costs associated with [this] pr
oblem."
xvii


May 2003

A Monsanto ad sent to farmers denies the problem of weed resistance and suggests that growers do

not

need
to
consider
weed
resistance management programs.
Stating that "
Dea
d weeds don't produce
seeds," the ad encourag
es farmers to use r
epeated
doses of Roundup on their fields and suggests there
are no weed problems even for farmers who use RR crops in the same fields year
-
after
-
year. The ad
earns a place in an Iowa State scientis
ts' "Herbicide Ad Hall of Shame
"
xviii

for promoting the very
st
rategies that lead to weed resistance.

2004

A Virginia study finds common lambsquarters weeds survive high doses of glyhosate, and finds that the
tolerance trait passes to the next weed generation.
xix

2005

Glyphosate
-
resistant waterhemp reported in Missouri
xx

and resistant lambsquarters is suspected in
several Midwestern states.
xxi


August 2005

A review of glyphosate
-
resistant weeds by USDA scientists notes that “The problem of weed species
evolving resistance is expected to increase with intense use of glyphosa
te and continued adoption of
[GMO] crops.”
xxii

September 2005

Palmer amaranth weeds resistant to glyphosate are confirmed in Georgia cotton fields. Monsanto
recommends growers add additional herbicides with their GMO crops
xxiii
, including older, dangerous
chemica
ls that the company earlier claimed would be replaced with the advent of GMO crops.

March 2006

DuPont announces the release of its new “Optimum” GMO crops, engineered for glyphosate
-
resistant
weed problems. The new crops are tolerant of both glyphosate and

DuPont’s ALS (
sulfonylurea
)

herbicides. In addition to allowing farmers to spray the extra herbicides, DuPont brags that the new
seeds allow farmers to spray “higher glyphosate application rates….”
xxiv

July 2006

A Georgia weed expert notes that glyphosate re
sistant
Palmer amaranth (pigweed)
weeds have been
reported in 50 fields throughout the state, noting that “
it's going to be a major devastating impact
” for
some

farmers. Many farmers begin to turn to expensive additional weed killers and tilling to control

the
weeds.
xxv


August 2007

The first documented case of resistant hairy fleabane in the US is confirmed in California.
xxvi

September 2007

Dow Jones

reports widespread glyph
osate
-
resistant fields are devastating

farmers in Argentina. First
observed there in 2004,

experts say

the resistant Johnson grass (
sorghum halepense
) weeds
could
double farmers herbicide costs. Argentina is 2nd to the U.S. in GMO crop acreage.
xxvii

2008

Glyphosate resistant ragweed is observed in

Ontario
xxviii
, and later in 2009 is confirmed as the first such
resistant weed found in Canada. By 2010, resistant weeds are found in 16 of 57 fields tested.
xxix

February 2009

A f
arm

journal reports that crops resistant to glyphosate and the herbicide dicamba
, to

address resistant
weeds, will be available in a few years. Monsanto and herbicide maker BASF announce a collaboration
to bring the new crop to market.
xxx

Dicamba is a reproductive toxin and potential groundwater
contaminant listed as a “bad actor” chemical
for its environmental and health effects.
xxxi

September 2009

Dow announces it is seeking regulatory approval for new GMO crops tolerant to the company’s 2,4
-
D
herbicide
xxxii
, a component of Agent Orange that is a dangerous neurotoxin and endocrine
-
disrupting
chem
ical.
xxxiii

January 2010


A leading weed scientist warns that glyphosate resistance brought on by overuse of GMO crops
threatens world food security. Writing in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
, Stephen
Powles states that

Glyphosate
resistance evolution is a major adverse development because glyphosate is a one in
a 100
-
year discovery that is as important for reliable global food production as penicillin is for
battling disease
..
.
.

It is not an exaggeration to state that the potential

loss of glyphosate to
significant areas of world cropping is a threat to global food production.
xxxiv

May 2010

Ten years after the first confirmed glyphosate resistant weeds from GMO crops, the
New York Times

notices the problem, quoting
one farm expert
who
s
tat
es

that weed resistance is “[T]
he single largest
threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen
.”
xxxv


September 2010

A Penn State weed scientist notes that glyphosate resistant weeds now infest more than 11 million acres
of U.S. farmland


a five
fold increase over the past three years.
xxxvi

January 2012

A paper in BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences notes that GMO crops
have resulted in widespread glyphosate resistant weeds and warns that developing new GMO crops
w
ith additional modes of herbicide resistance will exacerbate the problem by creating multiple resistant
weeds and forcing farmers to spray even more harmful chemicals on our food and in the
environment.
xxxvii




i

Jack Doyle, 1985,
Altered Harvest
, Viking Penguin, New York, 1985, pp. 214
-
217.

ii

Matthews, J.M., and S.B. Powles. 1995. "Glyphosate or glufosinate

resistant transgenic crop and pasture species:
Can target weeds develop resistance to these non
-
selective herbicides?" Cited in Barton and Dracup, "
Genetically
Modified Crops and the Environment
,"
Agron. J. 92:797

803 (2000).

Online at
https://www.soils.org/publications/aj/abstracts/92/4/797



iii

Pringnitz, B. A. 2001. Issues in Weed Management for 2002. Extension Publication PM 1898, Iowa State
University, University Extension Service
. Cited by Martinez
-
Ghersa, et al, "

Concerns a Weed Scientist Might Have
About Herbicide
-
Tolerant Crops: A Revisitation."
Weed Technology. 2003. Volume 17:202

210
.

iv

Miguel Altieri, “The Environmental Risks of Transgenic Crops: An Agroecological Assessme
nt.” Beyond Pesticides,
Spring/summer 1998, online at
http://www.beyondpesticides.org/infoser
vices/pesticidesandyou/Spring%20and%20Summer%2098/The%20Envir
onmental%20Risks%20of%20Transgenic%20Crops.pdf


v

Bob Hartzler, "Are Roundup Ready Weeds in Your Future?" Iowa State University, paper presented to the 1998
Crop and Pest Management Short Course,

St. Paul, MN. Online at
http://www.weeds.iastate.edu/mgmt/qtr98
-
4/roundupfuture.htm




vi

Juliana Barbassa, "
Attack of the 12
-
foot horseweed
." Associated Press, August 10, 2005, online at
http://www.gmwatch.org/latest
-
listing/1
-
news
-
items/2989
-
herbicide
-
resistant
-
strains
-
plague
-
fa
rmers



vii

Mark VanGessel, "Determining the Presence of Glyphosate
-
Resistant HorseWeed Under Field Conditions."
University of Delaware Coop Extension, March 13, 2001, update online at
http://ag.udel.edu/extension/IPM/ResourceGuide/WF13
-
Determining%20the%20Presence%20of%20Glyphosate
-
Resistant%20Horseweed.pdf



viii

Gillian Steward,
"
A new breed of superweed.
"

Toronto Globe
and mail, June 15, 2000, online at
http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/superweed.cfm



ix

Tom Spears, "
Superweeds' invade farm fields
." Ottawa Citizen, February 6, 2001, online at
http://www.organicconsumers.org/gefood/canolasuperweeds.cfm



x

Adrian Ewins, "

Canola popping up where it’s not wanted
." Western Farm Press, July 12, 2001, online at
http://www.producer.com/2001/07/canola
-
popping
-
up
-
where
-
its
-
not
-
wanted/



xi

Jonathan Leake, "
GM fields spread new superweeds
." Sunday Times (UK),
August 12, 2001
, online at
http://ipm.osu.edu/trans/08_121.htm



xii

David Dechant, "
Monsanto Sees Opportunity in Glyphosate Resistant Volunteer Weeds
." CropChoice News,
August 3, 2001, online at
http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry05f6.html?recid=390.%20http://cli.gs/JmLY1S



xiii


Syngenta Announces Guidelines To Prevent Weed Resistance To Glyphosate Herbicides
.” Syngenta press
release, February 2
5, 2002.

xiv

Mike Holmberg, "Weed resistance is the Achilles' heel of effective herbicides." Successful Farming, April 2002,
available on request.

xv

Cited in "
Monsanto Sales Down, CEO Out and Weed Resistance Up
." Ohio State University, December 20,2002,
onli
ne at
http://ipm.osu.edu/trans/122_201.htm



xvi

Mike Holmberg, "

Glyphosate resistance dominates weed science meeting
." Successful Farming, December 6,
2002, online at
http://www.biotech
-
info.net/dominating.html









xvii

Bob Hartzler, "Are Roundup Ready Weeds in Your Future II?" Iowa State University, January 2003, online at
http://www.weeds.iastate.edu/mgmt/2003/glyresistance.shtml



xviii

See
http://www.weeds.iastate.edu/mgmt/2003/monad.shtml



xix

King, S.R., et al. 2004. Differential response of common lambsquart
ers (Chenopodium album) biotype to
glyphosate. Weed Sci. Soc. Am Abstr. 44:68.

xx

See Facts About Glyphosate
-
Resistant Weeds online at
http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/gwc/gwc
-
1.
pdf


xxi

See “Biology and Management of Common Lambsquarters,”

online at

http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/BP/GWC
-
11.pdf


xxii

Nandula, V.K., et al (2005). “
Glyphosate
-
resistant
weeds: current status and future outlook
.” Outlooks

on Pest Management August 2005: 183
-
187. Online at
http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/6402
2000/Publications/Reddy/Nandula
-
GRW12.pdf


xxiii

“Investigation Confirms Case Of Glyphosate
-
Resistant Palmer Pigweed In Georgia.” Monsanto press release,
September 13, 2005, online at
http://monsanto.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=415


xxiv


Dupont names glyphosate, ALS Tolerant Trait Optimum(TM) GAT(TM)
,” DuPont press release, March 3, 2006.

xxv


Georgia cotton growers fight pigweed
,” Associated Press, July 8, 2006, online at
http://www.accessnorthga.com/detail.php?n=121060


xxvi

Stephanie Klunk
,

"
Another weed in south Central Valley shows resistance to herbicide
." UC Davis, August 23,
2007, online at
http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/NEWS/hairy_fleabane
-
news.html


xxvii

Shane Romig, "
Roundup resistant weeds spreading in Argentina
." Dow Jones Newswire, September 26, 2007,
online at
http://www.lasojamata.net/en/node/77



xxviii


U of G Researchers Find Suspected Glyphosate
-
Resistant Weed
,” University of Guelph press release, May 7,
2009, online at
http://www.uoguelph.ca/news/2009/05/u_of_g_research_19.html


xxix

Stephanie Dearing, “Glyphosate
-
resistant giant ragweed has spread in southern Ontario,” Digital Journal,
November 23, 2010, online at
h
ttp://digitaljournal.com/article/300579


xxx

Ann Toner, “Dicamba
-
resistant soybeans coming.” Nebraska Farmer, Feb 2009, online at
http://magissues.farmprogress.com/NEF/NF02Feb09/nef03
5.pdf


xxxi

See
http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Detail_Chemical.jsp?Rec_Id=PC32872


xxxii

AgroNews, “
Dow AgroSciences submits new family of herbicide tolerance traits
.” September 2, 2009
, online at
http://news.agropages.com/News/NewsDetail
---
1550.htm


xxxiii

See Natural Resources Defense Council, “Petition to Revoke All Tolerances and Cancel All Registrations for the
Pesticid
e 2,4
-
D,” Nov 6, 2008, online at
http://www.beyondpesticides.org/documents/NRDC%2024
-
Dpetition.pdf


xxxiv

PNAS
,

January 19, 2010
,

vol. 107
,

no. 3
,

955
-
956
, online at
http://www.pnas.org/content/107/3/955.full


xxxv

William Neuman and Andrew Pollack, “
Farmers Cope With Roundup
-
Resistant Weeds
.” NY Times, May 3, 2010,
online at
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/business/energy
-
environment/04weed.html?pagewanted=all


xxxvi

Penn State Live, “
Growing Roundup
-
resistant weed problem must be dealt with, expert says
.” Septembe
r 14,
2010, online at
http://live.psu.edu/story/48259


xxxvii

David Mortenson, et al (2012). “
Navigating a Critical Juncture for Sustainable Weed Management
.” BioScience
Vol. 62, No. 1 (January 2012), pp. 75
-
84
. O
nline at
http://www.iatp.org/files/Mortensen%20et%20al%20%202012%20%20Navigating.pdf