Weed scientist finds slight rise in herbicide chronic toxicity

phys.org | 4/12/2017 | Staff
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A University of Wyoming weed scientist—frustrated with the noise surrounding genetically modified organisms and glyphosate use—analyzed data to see for himself if biotech adoption has had a negative or positive effect on herbicide use.

Andrew Kniss specifically looked at chronic toxicity—interaction with the chemicals on a regular basis for many years—of herbicides used in five different crops grown in the U.S. "Long-term trends in the intensity and relative toxicity of herbicide use" was published Monday in the journal Nature Communications.

Study - Relevance - Safety - Information - Light

The study is of most relevance to applicator safety, but information also sheds light on herbicide and genetically modified organism (GMO) use.

"The most important thing to take away is that, in most cases, we haven't seen a huge increase in the toxicity of herbicides we are using," says Kniss, an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Decrease - Toxicity - Cases - Increase

There has either been a dramatic decrease in toxicity or, in some cases, a slight increase, he says.

"But, in the cases where we have seen a change in toxicity, either an increase or decrease, it's hard to pin that change on the adoption of biotech crops," says Kniss, in the Department of Plant Sciences.

Toxicity - Corn - Cotton - Glyphosate - Herbicide

Chronic toxicity in corn and cotton has increased not because of glyphosate, the herbicide associated with GMOs, but rather due to an increased reliance on other herbicides, he says. Nearly all of the significant decreases in toxicity were due to the EPA phasing out some of the most toxic herbicides.

As with most GMO and pesticides issues, he expects a wide range of reaction.

Study - Sources - Kniss - Research - Projects

Although this study was funded through public sources, Kniss has had research projects funded by chemical companies, particularly related to glyphosate.

"So, I came to this project with bias just like anyone has biases," he says. "But, I really did try just to follow the data. What does the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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