A recent study found that more farmers are being forced to use dangerous pesticides to fight weeds and insects that have grown in population due to genetically modified crop technologies. The new crops led to "superweeds" and hard-to-kill insects, according to Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University.
Benbrook's paper, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe, said that herbicide-tolerant crops and insect-protected crops are not as beneficial as originally thought.
Reuters reported that in 1996, Monsanto Co. created "Roundup Ready" crops – including soybeans, corn and cotton – which were herbicide tolerant.
Originally, according to the source, farmers were greatly pleased by the new plant options as they found that they could easily kill weed populations without damaging their product. However, over the last few years, over two dozen weed species have formed that are resistant to Roundup's chief ingredient glyphosate.
Specifically, the genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011.
"Things are getting worse, fast," Benbrook said to Reuters. "In order to deal with rapidly spreading resistant weeds, farmers are being forced to expand use of older, higher-risk herbicides. To stop corn and cotton insects from developing resistance to Bt, farmers planting Bt crops are being asked to spray the insecticides that Bt corn and cotton were designed to displace."
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