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Question

Is it true that due to the prevalence of Roundup Ready crops, weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup, and thus, more Roundup must be applied to these crops to kill the weeds? Is there currently an initiative to get the government to approve 2, 4D-Ready crops? Is 2, 4D dangerous?

Submitted by: Kiya Tabb


Answer

Expert response from Dr. Nicholas Storer

Global Leader for Scientific Affairs, Biotechnology Regulatory and Government Affairs Group, Dow AgroSciences

Wednesday, 11/20/2013 14:37

Canadian regulators have recently authorized the planting of soybeans and feed corn tolerant to the herbicide 2,4-D. Similar approvals are being sought in the United States. Approvals for the import of 2,4-D-tolerant corn grain have also been granted recently by many other nations. While cultivation of 2,4-D-tolerant crops is expected in coming growing seasons, thus far no commercial planting of these crops has occurred.

The reason crops are being stacked with 2,4-D tolerance is to undercut the weed resistance now developing in North America (and elsewhere) as a result of over-reliance on glyphosate as a single mechanism of control. Exclusive reliance on any single means of weed control, whether mechanical, chemical or genetic modification, will foster weed shifts and weed resistance. Using multiple methods of control (including herbicides with different modes of action) helps reduce the natural selection processes that drive weed resistance.

Over the past 15 years, glyphosate-tolerant cropping (which requires less plowing) has made important contributions to agricultural sustainability in terms of reductions in soil erosion, field runoff, soil compaction and air emissions from tractor exhaust. Farmers want to retain glyphosate-tolerant cropping because of its many benefits, which include increased productivity and flexibility in farm operations. To do this, however, they need new crop technology to break current weed resistance dynamics that are reducing the effectiveness of glyphosate as a farm tool, which in turn is resulting in increased herbicide use (in terms of both increased use rates and frequency of application). Incorporating 2,4-D tolerance traits into glyphosate-tolerant crops can help sustain the benefits of current farm methods by making it convenient for farmers to use multiple modes of control in their operations.

2,4-D is currently one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. It has been used for more than 60 years and is currently approved for use in more than 70 countries worldwide—among them Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Australia and the United States. Based on evaluations of extensive research, both regulators and health and safety organizations worldwide have reported little risk for adverse effects when 2,4-D is used in accordance with directions on the product label.