GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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Scientists question herbicide-resistant crops



Fwd from ENDS Daily FYI.

Alan

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Scientists question herbicide-resistant crops 
ENDS Daily - 20/02/97 
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Genetically-engineered herbicide resistant crop varieties 
will not be environmentally beneficial in the long term, 
according to a study prepared for the Dutch government.  
Dutch scientists have concluded that herbicide resistance 
will encourage chemical dependence.  They are urging 
farmers to view herbicide-resistant crops as a "last 
resort". 
 
The study was carried out by scientists at two research 
institutes operating under the official Netherlands 
organisation for agricultural research, DLO-NL.  It 
assesses environmental and economic costs and benefits of 
several approaches to cultivating sugar beet and maize 
including organic techniques, integrated crop management, 
or herbicide-resistant crops. 
 
Sugar beet and maize are important crops in the 
Netherlands, and a number of biotechnology companies are 
developing herbicide-resistant varieties for the Dutch 
market.  Companies operating in the Netherlands, such as 
Agrevo and Advanta, say that herbicide-resistant crops 
will benefit the environment by encouraging use of more 
environmentally-friendly herbicides. 
 
The study concludes that it could be justified in the 
short term, but that in the long term using herbicide-
resistant crops would encourage chemical dependence.  Jos 
Bijman, a researcher at the DLO agricultural economics 
institute told ENDS Daily:  "We came to the conclusion 
that, in the short term, herbicide resistant plant 
varieties may have environmental and economic benefits;  
but in the long term other weed management techniques 
would be more environmentally beneficial because they use 
less chemicals." 
 
Mr Bijman added, "The current focus on herbicide-
resistant plants could take away incentives for farmers 
to develop non-chemical, more environmentally benign 
control methods."  
 
The scientists recommend that the government should 
counterbalance commercial promotion of herbicide-
resistant crops by supporting other solutions.  They say 
the government should promote non-chemical weed 
management techniques and encourage farmers to consider 
herbicide-resistance as a "last resort" within integrated 
crop management regimes 
 
They also call for independent monitoring where 
herbicide-resistant crops are grown in field trials or 
commercially. 
 
Contacts: DLO-NL (http://www.bib.wau.nl/dlo/);  Jos 
Bijman, LEI-DLO, e-mail: w.j.j.bijman@lei.dlo.nl. 
 
 

.......................................................
 Alan Watson C.Eng                           _\\|//_
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