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Mission of the York Energy Efficiency Committee

Our mission is to respond to the global warming crisis by promoting energy efficiency, alternative energy, and environmental initiatives throughout the town of York, Maine.
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Herbicide Use in Genetically Engineered Crops Rising, Says Study

Although not energy-related, this may be of interest to health- and environmentally-conscious readers.

Many people don’t realize how many of our U.S. commercial crops are genetically modified (GMO) or that these crops have been modified primarily to survive large and frequent applications of herbicides. From the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences comes a study that found that the use of herbicides in the production of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant cotton, soybeans, and corn increased from 1.5 million pounds in 1999 to about 90 million pounds in 2011.

In the study, which appeared in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe, Benbrook writes that the emergence and spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds is strongly correlated with the upward trajectory in herbicide use. Marketed as Roundup and other trade names, glyphosate is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds. Approximately 95 percent of soybean and cotton acres, and more than 85 percent of corn, are planted to varieties genetically modified to be herbicide resistant.

“Resistant weeds have become a major problem for many farmers reliant on GE crops, and they are now driving up the volume of herbicide needed each year by about 25 percent,” Benbrook said.

The annual increase in the herbicides required to deal with tougher-to-control weeds on cropland planted to GE cultivars has grown from 1.5 million pounds in 1999 to about 90 million pounds in 2011.

Herbicide-tolerant crops worked extremely well in the first few years of use, Benbrook’s analysis shows, but over-reliance may have led to shifts in weed communities and the spread of resistant weeds that force farmers to increase herbicide application rates (especially glyphosate), spray more often and add new herbicides that work through an alternate mode of action into their spray programs.

Read the rest of the article.

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