After about 20 years of RoundUp use and 15 years of widespread planting of Monsanto's RoundUp-Ready GE crops, the efficacy of this herbicide is declining. Farmers are facing "superweeds" that can no longer be tamed by glyphosate, RoundUp's active ingredient. So now what?
Unfortunately, a new generation of crops engineered to resist mixtures of herbicide are waiting in the wings. As you've heard from my colleague Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, these new GE crops are completely the wrong response to this self-inflicted crisis. Meanwhile, researchers are raising new questions about the health and environmental effects of glyphosate itself.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient of Monsanto's RoundUp, is the most commonly used pesticide active ingredient in the U.S. From the product's beginnings back in the 1970s, it's been touted as a relatively safe, non-toxic chemical.
But the use of glyphosate has surged dramatically since the 1990s, when genetically engineered (GE) "RoundUp Ready" corn and soybean crops were introduced. This intensive usage raises an important and increasingly urgent question: have the human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate been carefully and exhaustively evaluated? What do we know and what don't we?