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Genetically modified crops - February issue

David Kendra dkendra at mr.net
Sun Feb 7 17:59:40 EST 1999

David Brear wrote:

> Dave,
> Not being a scientist, I have been following this thread with more interest
> than involvement.
> However, I think you may be wrong about the intended use of the new
> technology, as advertised, at least. In one of Monsanto's recent publicity
> coups, they arranged for the press to inspect crops growing at a trial site
> and said the advantage was that they could be allowed to grow for longer
> than with conventional control techniques, thus allowing insect
> populations to flourish. I quote from the Financial Times, 25 August 1998
> (not quite Nature, I know):

That is Monsanto's spin on the technology; however, seed companies who license the
technology and sell Roundup resistant seed do not necessarily endorse the claims you
mention above.  Monsanto is trying to peddle both technology and herbicide.  I dont work
for Monsanto and I do not endorse their tactics so I am not going to defend them, but I
do know that U.S. based seed companies who sell Roundup resistant crops recommend
applying the lowest  levels of herbicide possible.  Also, as I stated before, farmers are
concerned about their bottomline so they are not inclined to overapply a herbicide, it
costs them too much.

> "Many of Roundup's environmental advantages stem from the fact that,
> because it is such an effective herbicide, weeds can be allowed to grow
> much bigger than normal and sprayed just before they begin to compete
> with the crop. The Cambridgeshire trials show that, instead of the bare
> earth normally found around conventionally treated beet plants, there is a
> mulch of dead and dying weeds, which provides a better environment for
> insects while conserving water and reducing soil erosion. "

The scenario that you describe is not generally followed in field crops in the U.S.  Most
farmers prefer to apply the herbicides early in the growing season and spot apply later,
if required.  Even with Roundup, there are too many escapes with mature weeds.

Best regards,
Dave Kendra

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