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Dramatic Increase in Weed-Killer Use in U.S.

By Noel Brinkerhoff | allgov.com

Since the introduction of biotech versions of corn, soybeans and cotton on American farms in the mid-1990s, farmers are spraying less pesticide on their fields. That’s the good news. But, with the planting of genetically-engineered crops resistant to the weed-killer Roundup, farmers are using herbicides (weed-killers) more than ever.

 Monsanto introduced the first genetically-engineered crop, Roundup Ready soybeans, in 1996. The idea was to create a crop that was tolerant to Roundup while killing the weeds around the crop. Currently, Roundup herbicide products account for almost half of Monsanto’s profits. 

A new study produced by The Organic Center, the Union for Concerned Scientists and the Center for Food Safety shows that herbicide use grew by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008—and almost half (46%) of this increase occurred just within the past two years. The rise in herbicide spraying more than offset the decrease in insecticide use (64 million pounds), resulting in a net jump of 318 million pounds of chemicals applied to crops.

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