July 10, 2017 - Can Old Herbicides Save Glyphosate?


Monday, July 10, 2017 - An epidemic of glyphosate-resistant weeds is ending the revolutionary impact of glyphosate in glyphosate-tolerant crops. Can using glyphosate with new formulations of herbicides over a half-century old save it?

Glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops had a revolutionary impact on weed management practices in North and South America for the past twenty years. Many growers totally relied on glyphosate for weed control over vast areas of glyphosate-tolerant soybeans, corn, and cotton. It was the solution for managing weeds that were resistant to other herbicides. However it is now the herbicide that needs help; glyphosate can no longer stand alone, and the Roundup Ready® revolution is over.

The old herbicide paradigm of discovering your way out of new weed problems is not working. After over 30 years of finding a new commercial herbicide mode-of-action almost every year, the chemical industry has gone over 30 years without finding one, and none are on the horizon for the next decade.

The technologies that Monsanto, BASF, Dow, and DuPont have been hyping this year are new formulations and less volatile salts of dicamba and 2,4-D herbicides for use in new genetically modified crops. These 50- and 70-year-year old herbicides have a bad track record of off-target movement and injury to non-target organisms, but the companies involved think they have solved these problems with their new formulations and label mandated use restrictions.

Along with Dow’s new formulation of 2,4-D and glyphosate, the dicamba-based technologies are having even a worse launch. Despite warnings that currently available formulations of dicamba were not approved for use on dicamba-tolerant crops, a large number of growers feeling desperate in their fight against glyphosate-resistant “super weeds” illegally applied dicamba. The resulting widespread drift and injury to non-target organisms were predictable.

Relying so much on old herbicides that already have widespread weed resistance issues to control glyphosate-resistant weeds is not a great situation.

Comment:  Maybe instead of a new herbicide, we need a new paradigm of weed control.  

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