Herbicide Diversity Trends in US Crops, 1990-2014

There are two things that I think just about every weed scientist can agree on: herbicide resistant weeds make weed management more difficult; and the key to battling herbicide resistant weeds (or any weeds, really) is to use a diverse weed management program. One aspect of a diverse weed management program is herbicide diversity. The quickest way to select for herbicide resistant weeds is to use the same herbicide over and over again. I’ve expressed heavy skepticism in the past …

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The role of reflected light quality in crop-weed interactions

This post is a slightly edited excerpt from an article we wrote for Reflections magazine. Plants need light – this is one of the first biology lessons children learn in school. Plants convert sunlight into forms of energy the plant can use to grow. Nearly everything humans eat is derived in some way from photosynthesis, whether the tomato picked from a garden or a ribeye steak that once grazed on grass. Sunlight seems like a plentiful enough resource, but there’s …

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Enlist Duo registration being withdrawn by EPA due to “synergistic effects”

Chris Clayton at DTN is reporting this morning that EPA is withdrawing registration of Enlist Duo herbicide. The decision was posted yesterday in court documents. From the DTN report: “The filing was posted in a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Food Safety against Dow AgroSciences and EPA over the regulatory approval of Enlist Duo.” Withdrawal of the herbicide’s registration will effectively make it illegal to use this herbicide, …

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The cost of preventing herbicide resistance

In my last post, I reviewed some recent research that suggests one of the best ways to delay the evolution of herbicide resistant weeds is to use mixtures of effective herbicides. Resistance is initially a very rare trait within a weed species, so the probability that any particular individual plant will be resistant to two herbicides is extremely low. The second herbicide is likely to kill any weeds that are resistant to the first herbicide, and vice versa. The theory behind this practice …

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Want to reduce herbicide resistance? Spray more herbicides!

A while ago, I wrote a post summarizing the pros and cons of using a regulatory framework to slow the evolution of herbicide resistant weeds. As a part of that post, I suggested there exists a “resistance management paradox.” In a nutshell, to reduce the problem of herbicide resistant weeds, one important strategy may be to actually use more herbicide. From my previous post: “The only way to assuredly prevent herbicide resistance from evolving is never to apply the herbicide; but if we are going to …

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Who funds my weed science program?

Since 2012, around two-thirds of my research funding has come from competitive grants. By competitive grants, I mean projects that I’ve developed and submitted to an agency for funding consideration. Many other people submit applications, too, and the funding agency selects the projects they feel are most worthy. Most of my competitive grants are from public funding sources like USDA-NIFA, state department of agriculture, or the state Agricultural Experiment Station; but some competitive grants are also funded by local and regional grower groups. …

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GMOs, Herbicides, and the New England Journal of Medicine

An opinion piece was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, written by Dr. Philip Landrigan (an M.D.) and Dr. Charles Benbrook (PhD) titled “GMOs, Herbicides, and Public Health”. I was asked to review the piece this week, and I can only assume it will eventually make the rounds on social media. So I thought it was worth commenting here since it is related to herbicides and herbicide-resistant GMO crops. The “Perspective” piece is basically a plea from Dr. Landrigan and Dr. …

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Trends in corn herbicide use (1990 to 2014)

USDA-NASS recently published the most recent corn herbicide use data (from 2014). I’ve been looking through the data, because, well, free data! Perhaps the figure below isn’t the ideal way to present it, but there are some interesting trends that can be observed this way. Total herbicide use in corn (in weight of herbicide applied) has remained relatively constant at about 2 to 2.5 lbs/acre since around 2000 (Top panel A). There have certainly been changes in which herbicides contributed to that …

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What does Chipotle’s switch to non-GMO ingredients mean for pesticide use?

A couple weeks ago, Chipotle announced they were removing genetically engineered crops (called GMOs) from their menu. Kind of. As you might expect, the announcement was covered widely in the media. Interestingly, though, most of the coverage wasn’t very positive. There’s a fairly long list of responses to the Chipotle decision if you’d like to read more about it. A variety of issues are covered in those responses, but I wanted to take a deeper look into the impact this switch might …

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Stop saying organic food is less safe, unless you can provide evidence

A recent article from Western Producer titled “Canada has a world-class food system” was recently re-posted by the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP). GLP, whose stated mission is to “explore the intersection of DNA research, media and policy to disentangle science from ideology”, commonly aggregates news stories. But when they re-posted this particular article, the headline was changed pretty dramatically, to “WHO study finds thousands of illnesses linked annually to organic foods.” After some criticism in the comments, it was later changed to remove …

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