GM soybeans are losing their appeal for farmers in Latin America because of the intractable spread of herbicide-tolerant superweeds, according to former Dupont agronomist Alberto Bianchi.
Bianchi says the problem is compounded by the fact that the chemical industry, which produces GM crops and the agrochemicals they depend upon, has not come up with a herbicide with a new mode of action for 30 years. Many superweeds are already resistant to the older herbicides.
GMWatch was told by a chemical industry insider that there are no new herbicides in the pipeline either. So agro-industry and the farmers that have come to depend on it have lost the battle with superweeds for the foreseeable future.
Soybean cultivation is no longer easy, says agronomist
Agrolink (Brazil), June 5 2014
Rough English translation of Portuguese original by Google/GMWatch
Soybean remains the most prominent crop in Latin America, especially Brazil and Argentina. However, the crop may fail to generate billions of dollars in annual income and may cease to be competitive and attractive to farmers if there are new herbicides to combat the glyphosate-resistant superweeds.
This alert comes from the Argentine private consultant Alberto Bianchi, an agronomist who has worked for Dupont. He claims that soy has passed out of the "extreme simplicity for weed control" stage into a more complex stage, due to the "repeated use of pretty much the same product": glyphosate.
Thus according to him, in the last five years "there has been a violent spread of a great many species of [resistant superweeds], often types that plague large expanses of Argentina".
Since before the introduction of RR soybeans (Roundup Ready, from Monsanto) and until about four years ago, Bianchi says "one or two types of superweed were identified that were known (for being difficult to eliminate) and attracted the attention of the whole world." But "Now there is another group of threats" appearing in different regions of Argentina where the crop is cultivated, from the border with Bolivia to the south of Buenos Aires province, says the agronomist.
The expert says that the emergence of superweeds that are "very strong and resistant to glyphosate application" is seen in all regions, albeit with variations in type, and "this is a serious problem." "Without euphemisms," he said that today the situation is "worse than before" the introduction of GM soybean resistant to glyphosate, as the elimination of superweeds was more complex.
This is because, according to him, the fact that today "the superweeds are stronger than before" and some "are already resistant to herbicides that were used before," which limits the range of possible products to use.
For Bianchi, the other part of the problem lies in the fact that "the chemical industry, the generator of all of these technologies, has not launched a new herbicide with a new mode of action for almost 30 years"… so that "today we have to fight pests worse than 15 or 20 years ago, but with fewer weapons than we had before." The problem not only affects soybeans, says the consultant, but "other crops as well". However, "soybean is a major crop that occupies more than 20 million acres and draws attention from all over the world."