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More herbicide use reported on genetically modified crops

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Troy Roush, a farmer in Indiana, says resistant weeds became such a big problem that this year he decided to switch back to conventional soybeans.

“The only advantage a genetically modified soybean has over the value of (conventional soy) is diminished,” Mr. Roush says. “We might as well not pay for the technology and use conventional seeds.”

His fields of genetically engineered soybean became infested with “mare’s tail”, a bushy weed that looks like the tail of a horse, and with genetically-engineered corn, he says. Because Roush rotates corn and soybeans on the same field, the Roundup-resistant corn actually became a weed when it went to seed the following year.

Because of these problems, Roush is now back at growing soybeans the old way and using a more toxic 2,4-D herbicide. He is saving money on seeds (genetically engineered seeds cost five times more than the seeds a farmer saves himself), and he can make more from selling his crop to customers in the European Union and Japan, who prefer non-genetically modified soy.

The authors of the report also found that the amount of insecticide used on genetically modified crops decreased during the same time period (although by a smaller amount). According to the report, herbicide use grew by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008, while insecticide use decreased by 64 million pounds due to the adoption of crops that are engineered to resist insects.

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