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Assessment & Impacts » Ecological

Title: Monsanto Reports Weed Resistance to Glyphosate in Western Canada
Publication date: February 10, 2012
Posting date: February 10, 2012

 

THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
 
 
Dear Friends and colleagues,
 
RE: Monsanto Reports Weed Resistance to Glyphosate in Western Canada
 
The Kochia weed has developed resistance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, in three fields in southern Alberta, suggesting that resistance to weedkillers is spreading. This was confirmed by the major agribusiness corporation, Monsanto, producer of Roundup, in a statement. They reported the findings based on studies conducted by Canadian government experts.
 
This is the first case of resistance to Round Up in Western Canada. Two other resistant weed species, giant ragweed and Canada fleabane, have previously been confirmed in Canada, both in southwestern Ontario.
 
Weeds resistant to glyphosate have been found in a number of places in the US in recent years, resulting in higher costs and lower crop yields for farmers.
 
The southern Alberta case is unique because it occurred in fallow fields and not on fields where Roundup Ready crops, which are genetically modified to tolerate Monsanto's weed-killing herbicide, are grown. Monsanto cautioned that this finding is significant and if resistance continues to spread it would pose great challenges given the prevalence of Roundup Ready canola and Roundup Ready sugarbeets in the region.
 
 
With best wishes,
 
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister,
10400 Penang,
Malaysia
To subscribe to other TWN information lists: www.twnnews.net
 
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Item 1
 
Monsanto Says Weedkiller-Resistant Kochia Found in Canada Jack Kaskey Bloomberg, January 12 2012 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-12/monsanto-says-glyphosate-resistant-kochia-in-western-canada.html
 
Monsanto Co. (MON), the biggest seed maker, said the bushy plant Kochia is no longer being killed by the company's Roundup in parts of Canada, a sign that resistance to the world's best-selling herbicide is spreading.
 
Kochia that resists glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was confirmed in three fields in southern Alberta, St. Louis-based Monsanto said yesterday in a statement on its website. The weed, which can thrive in drought conditions and grow 7 feet tall (2.1 meters), previously was found to be glyphosate-resistant in three U.S. states, the company said.
 
Glyphosate-resistant weeds have spread with the popularity of Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops, which are genetically modified to withstand applications of the herbicide. To combat the problem, Monsanto and its rivals are engineering crops that resist additional weed killers such as dicamba and 2,4-D, an ingredient in the defoliant Agent Orange.
 
Kochia resistance in Alberta affects 101 to 500 acres, according to the website of the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds.
 
The Canadian case is different from most because the kochia, found in fallow fields, don't appear to have developed resistance on farms where Roundup Ready crops were regularly planted, Monsanto said. Still, the weeds "could present new challenges" on Alberta farms that use Roundup Ready canola and sugarbeet seeds, the company said.
 
In the U.S., Roundup-resistant weeds such as kochia and Palmer amaranth have invaded 14 million acres of cotton, soybean and corn, and that will double by 2015, Syngenta AG said last year. A Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) study in 2011 found as many as 20 million acres of corn and soybeans may already be infested.
 
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Item 2
 
Glyphosate-Resistant Weed Spreads To Canada Crop Belt By Rod Nickel Thomson Reuters, USA ( http://ca.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idCATRE80A1C220120111)
11 January 2012
 
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - A weed resistant to a widely used chemical to protect crops has spread for the first time to Western Canada, the country's grain and canola belt.
 
Kochia weed turned up in three fields in Southern Alberta last August, despite the use of glyphosate, and Canadian government scientists have now confirmed that it is resistant to the farm chemical, seed company Monsanto Canada said on Wednesday.
 
So-called "super weeds" have defied dosages of the world's top-selling herbicide, Monsanto's Roundup, and spread through key crop-growing areas of the United States in recent years, boosting costs and cutting crop yields for farmers.
 
Roundup's active ingredient is glyphosate.
 
"That is one of the chemicals that has been so broadly used that this will be a growing issue that we have to face," said Ron Frost, a Calgary, Alberta-based agriculture analyst.
 
Kochia has previously been confirmed in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, and suspected cases are under investigation in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.
 
The southern Alberta case is unique because it does not appear to have developed in a field where farmers regularly grew Roundup Ready crops, which are genetically modified to tolerate Monsanto's weed-killing herbicide, the company said.
 
The fields were left fallow last year to replenish soil nutrients, and chemicals were used to control weeds.
 
Resistance typically evolves after farmers use the same herbicide repeatedly on a weed population, without other approaches to control weeds, Monsanto said.
 
"We recognize this particular finding could present new challenges if it spreads because of the prevalence of Roundup Ready canola and Roundup Ready sugarbeets in this region," said Sean Dilk, Monsanto Canada's technology development manager. "But the effective use of Roundup agricultural herbicides and Roundup Ready crops has continued in areas where glyphosate resistance has occurred in the past."
 
Canada is the world's biggest exporter of spring wheat, canola, durum and malting barley, all of which mostly grow in the western provinces.
 
The Alberta case is unlikely to sway farmers in that area away from planting canola, even though Roundup Ready canola is one of the most popular seed varieties, Frost said. But he added the super-weed‚s spread is "a big deal" for the future of seeding canola, which is Canada's second-largest crop after spring wheat.
 
The case is a warning to farmers not to overuse any farm chemical, said Murray Hartman, oilseed specialist for the Alberta government.
 
Farmers in the affected region may now look to alternate seeding of Roundup Ready canola with Bayer CropScience's Liberty Link canola, Hartman said.
 
BASF also produces a herbicide-resistant canola, called Clearfield.
 
Two other resistant weed species, giant ragweed and Canada fleabane, have previously been confirmed in Canada, both in southwestern Ontario.
 
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; editing by Jim Marshall)
 
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Item 3
 
Glyphosate-Resistant Kochia Confirmed In Southern Alberta
 
Monsanto, Canada
Press Release
11 January 2012
 
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada weed scientists confirm first finding of a glyphosate-resistant weed in Western Canada
 
(Winnipeg, MB January 11, 2012) -- Weed scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) have completed evaluations on samples of kochia (Kochia scoparia) collected from three fields in Southern Alberta last August and have confirmed the first case of a glyphosate-resistant weed in Western Canada.
 
Two weed species in Canada were previously confirmed as resistant are all found in southwestern Ontario. Giant ragweed was confirmed in 2009 and Canada fleabane was confirmed in 2011. Glyphosate-resistant kochia populations have previously been confirmed in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska. There are also suspected cases being investigated in North and South Dakota and Montana.
 
"We began this particular investigation of kochia in three chem-fallow fields in Southern Alberta last summer where we saw little-to-no kochia control after receiving multiple applications of glyphosate," explained Dr. Bob Blackshaw, one of two AAFC weed scientists working on this project. "That prompted us to do further work through the fall and winter that involved collecting samples of seed and completing the necessary grow out and spraying of plants to confirm resistance."
 
Blackshaw and fellow AAFC weed researcher, Dr. Hugh Beckie, completed tests on seed samples collected from the fields to validate their findings. The studies looked at the survival of the kochia plants at increasing rates of glyphosate, a standard protocol required for resistance confirmation.
 
Monsanto Canada worked cooperatively with the researchers to confirm the finding of resistance and will work together to begin developing recommendations for the impacted farmers, as well as other farmers in the region who may be looking for advice on the steps they can take to reduce the chances of the resistance spreading or developing in other fields.
 
What makes this particular case different from some of the previous situations where glyphosate resistance has been confirmed, is that it does not appear to have developed in a Roundup Ready® cropping system. The suspected weed species were found in three fields of chem-fallow and the typical crop rotation of the fields does not appear to have included regular use of Roundup Ready crops.
 
In recent years, Monsanto has elevated its focus on weed resistance management to protect the value that Roundup® brand herbicides and Roundup Ready crops have brought to western Canadian farmers. That focus has involved the production of several communication pieces and online tools aimed specifically at elevating awareness, educating growers and ultimately helping them reduce the likelihood of resistance developing on their farm.
 
"We devote a lot of research to explore practical and cost-effective solutions for growers who are faced with glyphosate-resistant weeds on their farm. We have been fortunate in Canada in that this is not a large scale weed management issue," said Sean Dilk, technology development manager within Monsanto‚s crop protection division. "But we have increased communication around this topic and we speak to farmers about this more often to lessen the likelihood of resistant weeds developing. It's part of our commitment to stewardship and protecting a valuable tool that farmers have come to rely on."
 
Resistance evolves after a weed population has been subjected to intense selection pressure in the form of a repeated use of a single herbicide and without adequate incorporation of cultural weed management options. The herbicide controls all the susceptible weeds, leaving only resistant plants to reproduce.
 
While glyphosate-resistant kochia has now been confirmed, the AAFC weed scientists are continuing their work on this particular site. Monsanto Canada is also supporting the AAFC research effort which includes providing recommendations to help farmers manage glyphosate-resistant weeds once they are identified and confirmed.
 
In addition to the work being undertaken by AAFC, there is ongoing collaborative research being conducted with academics such as Dr. Linda Hall at the University of Alberta for specific solutions that will address glyphosate-resistant kochia. AAFC, the University of Alberta, along with Monsanto are all working to develop and communicate a set of local solutions to slow or manage the populations that are currently under review.
 
"Our history tells us that farmers can, and are, effectively managing the situation with good agronomic practices such as using tank mixes and/or cultural weed control methods. We recognize this particular finding could present new challenges if it spreads because of the prevalence of Roundup Ready canola and Roundup Ready sugarbeets in this region," acknowledged Dilk. "But the effective use of Roundup agricultural herbicides and Roundup Ready crops has continued in areas where glyphosate resistance has occurred in the past and we have some very knowledgeable people looking into this issue. I am confident in our ability to present good options to the growers in the region."
 
Monsanto takes product stewardship and claims of glyphosate resistance seriously and encourages growers to report suspected cases of resistance to Monsanto representatives so they can work with academics and extension services to investigate suspected cases, develop solutions for farmers and communicate the findings broadly. Monsanto's current best management practices include:
 
- Start with a clean field by either utilizing a burn down herbicide or tillage to control weeds early.
 
- Tank mix effective herbicides with pre-seed Roundup applications before appropriate crops in the rotation.
 
- Include other cultural practices where appropriate as part of the overall cropping system.
 
- Use the right herbicide at the right rate and apply at the right time.
 
- Control weeds throughout the season to reduce the weed seed bank.
 
- Be sure to include other crops (including glyphosate-tolerant and non glyphosate-tolerant crops) in rotation with Roundup Ready crops to allow greater opportunity for the inclusion of other modes of action.
 
Farmers, who want to assess the likelihood of glyphosate resistance developing on their farm, can visit www.weedtool.com. They can also obtain additional information and stewardship recommendations in Monsanto's pamphlet, "Best Practices for Weed Management: Start Clean and Stay Clean."
 
"Glyphosate has likely delayed the evolution of weed resistance to other herbicides and mitigated their resistance impact," explains Dr. Beckie.
 
"However, farmers need to think carefully about how and when they use glyphosate."
 
Monsanto Canada is headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Monsanto Company is an agricultural company and a leading global provider of technology - focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of the world's natural resources such as water and energy. Learn more about our business and our commitments at www.monsanto.ca

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