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Answers

Question

When you create a plant that is herbicide resistant, are there actually pesticides in the plant genetically ?

Submitted by: marianneasher


Answer

Expert response from Denneal Jamison-McClung, Ph.D.

Associate Director, UC Davis Biotechnology Program

Monday, 01/14/2019 21:48

All plants naturally contain thousands of active biomolecules for defense against pests, herbivores and crowding by other plants (allelochemicals, which are somewhat like herbicides).  An example of a common allelochemical is juglone, a molecule exuded by the roots of walnut trees that keeps competing plants clear of the tree's root zone. In the case of agricultural plants that are herbicide resistant, whether through evolutionary means or by genetic engineering, they have changes to their metabolism that make agricultural herbicides ineffective. These plants do not produce herbicides, but are able to escape the killing activity of applied herbicides.