For Sarah's Sure Shots
GMO Online Gallery Project: Herbicide Resistance in Crop Plants
Herbicide resistance- The inherited ability of a plant to survive and reproduce after being exposed to an amount of herbicide that would normally be lethal to the wild type. Herbicide binds to specific areas in plants, mainly enzymes and proteins, and this binding disrupts the normal functioning of the plant. This results in death of the plant.
Description of the problem it is intended to solve:
Example #1: On large scale farms, hand weeding takes too long and requires too many workers to be cost efficient ("Herbicide resistant crops"). Researchers Steven Winter and Allen Wiese provide evidence of this through their study on the economics of hand weeding sugar beets versus weeding the beets through chemical means, in which they concluded that hand weeding is much more expensive than chemical weeding (Deese). The chemicals used in this chemical weeding are known as herbicides ("Herbicide resistant crops"). Below is a picture of a Royal1688 beet field in which the left side was treated with herbicides and the right was not. Both sides are planted with herbicide resistant crops.

external image 146_effect_of_herbicides_zoom.jpg

Different Points of View
P.O.V. #1: Environmentalists see three main potential problems resulting from herbicide resistant GMOs, as outlined by the "Monsanto's 'Roundup Ready' Alfalfa Controversy" case study. 'Roundup Ready' is a form of GMO engineered to resist the herbicide glyphosate- an herbicide that is produced by the same company, Monsanto, that produces the Roundup Ready GMOs. The case study describes how environmentalists beileve that Monsanto produced the GMOs for the purpose of selling more of their herbicide, because farmers could now drench their fields in glyphosate without worrying about their crops dying from it as well, with the result that higher volumes of herbicides are now being used to the detriment of nearby plants and animals to which it is toxic. This view is supported by a article from the "Reuters" news agency, which stated that herbicide use increased by over 176 million pounds from 2007 to 2008, as a direct result of herbicide resitant GMOs (Gillam). The second problem environmentalists foresee regarding these herbicide resistant GMOs is that as a result of the weeds' constant exposure to the herbicides, the weeds will develop a tolerance to them ("Monsanto's 'Roundup Ready' Alfalfa Controversy."). Farmers would then need to use even larger quantities of herbicides to kill the weeds, or external image arrow-10x10.png other, more toxic herbicides. And thirdly environmentalists fear that alfalfa genetically engineered to be Roundup Ready, for example, could contaminate other varieties of alfalfa that are not GMOs ("Monsanto's 'Roundup Ready' Alfalfa Controversy.") Thus GMOs would be present in places where they are neither needed nor wanted, such as in the wild or on organic farms.

Works Cited
Deese, Steven Daniel. “Economic Analysis: Weeding Techniques for Organic Farms.” N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2011. <‌cgi/‌viewcontent.cgi?article=1016&context=agbsp>.
Gillam, Carey. “Biotech crops cause big jump in pesticide use-report.” N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2011. <‌article/‌idUSN1752655520091117>.
“Herbicide resistant crops.” GMO Compass. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2011. <‌eng/‌agri_biotechnology/‌breeding_aims/‌146.herbicide_resistant_crops.html>.
“Monsanto’s ‘Roundup Ready’ Alfalfa Controversy.”‌casestudies. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2011. <‌casestudies/‌catalogue/‌Business%20Ethics/‌Monsanto%20Roundup%20Ready%20Alfalfa%20Controversy-Business%20Ethics.htm >.
Prather, Timother S, Joseph M Ditomaso, and Jodie S Holt. “Herbicide Resistance: Definition and Management Strategies.” N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2011. [[‌files/‌repositoryfiles/‌8012-54086.pdf]].

Example #2: Arcadia Biosciences have experimented with Herbicide-tolerant wheat and have shown that herbicide-tolerant crops allow farmers to use larger amounts of herbicides to control the growth of weeds. The decreased growth of weeds allows for the crops, in this case wheat, to have less competition for sunlight, nutrients from the soil and air, and space, meaningthat they grow a lot bigger faster and in larger amounts.
external image image007.jpg
The controls werent herbicide resitant while the others were. The control died while the other batches remained healthy. This shows that in a feild infested by weeds, herbicide resistant crops will be able to withstand the toxicity of herbicides and the weeds will die out.

P.O.V #2: Agronomic Viewpoint
Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, feed, fiber, and reclamation.(Wikipedia)

Three main reasons to justify development and introduce herbicide resistance
  1. To improve the control of weeds associated with certain crops.
  2. Provide an alternative tool for the management of weeds that have become resistant to Selective Herbicides.
  3. Decrease the negative effect of toxic herbicides on crops.

According to Olofsdotter’s case study with red rice and other weedy rice, as outlined by , weeds have been a huge problem with rice growth. Due to the excessive growth of weeds, rice crops have a much harder time competing for sunlight. This intensified competition results in more rice crops not being able to grow and reproduce effectively. In some cases, Herbicides that are Selective to only weeds are used as pointed out by Olofsdotter. In these cases, weeds, over the years have started to become resistant to these Selective Herbicides. So, introducing herbicide resistance in rice crops could allow farmers to use non-Selective Herbicides that weeds are not resistant to. There is a larger variety of non-Selective than Selective Herbicides.
An issue with introducing herbicide resistance in crops is more resistant weeds. If weeds can naturally become resistant to Selective Herbicides, eventually they would be able to become resistant to a larger number of non-Resistant Herbicides. This could lead to a Universally Herbicide Resistant Weed.
external image GM_crops_area_bytrait.jpg
Over time, weeds have naturally become resistant to prominent herbicides excessively used, as shown in the graph above.

Works Cited

Olofdotter, M., Valverde, B.E. & Madsen, K.H. 2000. Herbicide resistant rice (Oryza sativa L.) in a global perspective: Implications for weed management. Annals of Applied Biology 137, 279-295. Retrieved from


Many farmers use many different types of herbicides to kill the weeds that grow within their crops, each type of herbicide is specific to which type of weed it is being used on. Although herbicides are successful in killing weeds within crops, they can also cause damage to the crops, as well as to the environment through polluting the air and water. Due to the fact that herbicides can be a threat to the environment, some farmers use more environmentally friendly herbicides that fall on a broad-spectrum, however this too can also lead to erosions within the crop fields by wind and water.

Ernest Jaworski, a biochemist working at Monsanto, has offered farmers an alternative for weed control, through bioengineering, which involves spraying fields with broad-spectrum herbicides after herbicide-resistance crops have sprouted and are holding down the soil. After doing some research on glyphosphate, a chemical compound that was used in the 1960s in herbicides, Jaworski discovered that glyphosphate was very effective, and killed so many different types of weeds, because it did its damage by creating a critical biochemical pathway within the plants and disrputed the function of a vital enzyme to all plants, which is known as EPSP synthase. Scientists working in Monsanto were then able to clone the gene that produced EPSP, and learned how to modify it so that it was not sensitive to glyphosphate. Scientists also engineered plants so that they could tolerate certain types of herbicides, which allows the crops, being herbicide-resistant, to protect soil and water quality as well as support farming practices. They also allow farmers to use glyphosphate to kill the weeds with their fields once the crops have sprouted and are holding down the soil.
Herbicide Resistance in Crops
P.O.V # 4
the idea of herbicide resistant crops is mostly to save money, as it allows farmers to spray large areas of their crops with herbicide, and have it only kill the weeds. This is much faster than weeding by hand, and saves time and money. This also allows for increased production of crops, as killing weeds with herbicide will not result in the death of the regular crop as well. This will make harvesting crops easier and more efficient, and will allow more food to be produced on farms. This could be a techniche that can be used in countries that do not have enough food, as they would be able to grow more crops more efficiently.