More herbicide resistance (27/5/2004)

With glyphosate resistant weeds already galloping across some states, is this the kind of innovation US agriculture needs?!

A New Tack on Herbicide Resistance
Science 304 (5674): 1089, by Erik Stokstad

Crops that can withstand herbicides have been a huge economic success for genetic engineering.

About 80% of the U.S. market in soybeans and cotton is now in plants that tolerate glyphosate, a safe, cheap, potent, and environmentally friendly [!] herbicide trademarked as Roundup.

"Roundup Ready" agriculture has also been a gravy train for Monsanto, which invented the herbicide and is still the only company that's commercialized glyphosate-tolerant plants. But the herbicide patent has expired, and rivals are now trying to crack the monopoly on protected plants.

On page 1151, a team of researchers describes a new detoxifying enzyme that allows plants to resist glyphosate. If the plants make it to market, they could heat up competition, lower the price of genetically modified crops, and stimulate further innovation.

Stephen Duke of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in University, Mississippi, says the approach to finding the new enzyme was fast and effective--"brilliant work."

full article: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/304/5674/1089?ijkey=MTN8Z80r4THxs&keytype=ref&siteid=sci

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