GE Backslide: The Impact of Glyphosate-Resistant Palmer Pigweed on Agriculture in the United States


THIRD WORLD NETWORK                     
New Book Release

TWN Biotechnology & Biosafety Series no. 12

Genetically Engineered Backslide: The Impact of Glyphosate-Resistant Palmer Pigweed on Agriculture in the United States

By Edward Hammond

Publisher: TWN (ISBN: 978-967-5412-27-1)
Year: 2010   No. of pages: 32


The widespread planting of “Roundup Ready” crops that are genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate has led to the emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds in fields in the United States. Of these weeds, the species believed to pose the greatest threat to agricultural productivity is Palmer amaranth – more commonly known as Palmer pigweed – which has infested cotton and soya farms across the southern US and is expected to spread to new areas and crops.
The approach currently adopted to stem its spread has been to apply more and more herbicides, including chemicals which are banned in many countries due to their toxicity. American farmers have also had to revert to agricultural practices used in the 1980s and earlier, such as hand weeding and increased tillage. Such measures will not only push up farm production costs, but give rise to adverse environmental impacts as well.
This paper examines the worrying extent and implications of the Palmer pigweed problem, which the author says shows up the folly of US agriculture’s increasing reliance on genetically modified herbicide-resistant crops.


EDWARD HAMMOND is an American policy researcher who has worked on biodiversity, biological weapons and infectious disease issues since 1994. From 1999 to 2008 he directed the Sunshine Project, an international non-governmental organization specializing in biological weapons control. Hammond was Programme Officer for the Rural Advancement Foundation International (now the ETC Group) from 1995 to 1999. He holds MS and MA degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, USA, where he was an Inter-American Foundation Masters Fellow.


1.      Introduction                                                                           
2.            The Emergence of Glyphosate Resistance                            
3.      What is Known About the Biology of Palmer Pigweed Resistance
4.            Chemical Storm: The Response to Glyphosate-Resistant Pigweed
5.      Costs to Manage Glyphosate-Resistant Pigweed
6.            Impact of Increased Tilling
7.            Cloudy Outlook: 2,4-D- and Dicamba-Resistant Cotton
8.            Conclusion


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