Superweeds: Fact and Fallacy

It has been widely reported that because of an over-reliance on Roundup and other herbicides, that a new class of “superweeds” is now thriving. The following myths have popped up as a result:

  1. Myth: Superweeds come from gene transfer between species, and especially as a result of genetically engineered crops.

Fact: Geneticists say that gene transfer from herbicide resistant crops to weeds can happen, but it’s not the main cause of weeds’ resistance to herbicide. It’s more the reliance of weed control using one class of chemical over and over again.

  1. Myth: Superweeds have a greater-than-normal ability to crowd out and fight for nutrients, harming the desired plants more than the usual weeds.

Fact: The resistant weeds are no more problematic than the “old” weeds; they are similarly competitive to the desired crops, with potentially overwhelming effects.

Andrew Kniss, Ph.D., board member of the Weed Science Society of America and University of Wyoming faculty member says, “Nearly any weed species can be economically devastating if left uncontrolled. It is important to incorporate a variety of weed management practices and not rely exclusively on herbicides for weed control. Monitoring weed populations is also important. Early recognition of resistant populations and rapid intervention can help reduce the impact these weeds have.”


This entry was posted in Agriculture, Ecology, Bookmark the permalink.