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War on Weeds Loses Ground
With its jumble of leaves and pointy, green, flower spikes, the plant known as pigweed or palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) isn’t much to look at. But to farmers in the southeastern United States, it is a formidable foe. Having evolved the ability to withstand glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s popular herbicide Roundup, it now flourishes unchecked alongside crops such as cotton and soya bean that are genetically modified to be glyphosate tolerant.

And it is not unique, says agronomist Harold Coble at the Office of Pest Management Policy in Raleigh, North Carolina, part of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), who notes that 383 known weed varieties have the genetic defenses to survive one or more herbicides. The problem has escalated since the widespread introduction of Roundup Ready and similar crops over the past decade allowed farmers to apply glyphosate more liberally.

Researchers are also wary of engaging in a continuing arms race with nature. “A number of analysts feel that such an approach is short sighted and doomed to fail,” says agronomist Matt Liebman of Iowa State University in Ames. The chief worry is that new herbicide blends will accelerate the emergence of resistance to multiple chemicals.

 
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Water Hyacinth Could Help Clean Up Lake Ainsworth - A Ballina councillor says the endemic north coast weed water hyacinth could be used strategically to remove excess phosphorous from Lake Ainsworth.


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