Such landscape studies are now more feasible because of new genomic and technological innovations that could be used to compare the efficacy of strategies for preventing weed and insect resistance. That's the takeaway recommendation from a North Carolina State University review paper addressing pesticide resistance published today in the journal Science.
Pesticide resistance exacts a tremendous toll on the U.
Global Pesticide Resistance in Arthropods
Costs could also increasingly accrue on human lives. If insecticide-coated bed nets and complementary insecticide spraying failed to slow the transmission of malaria by pesticide-resistant mosquitoes, for example, the human health costs in places like Africa could be catastrophic. Weed species have evolved resistance to every class of herbicide in use, and more than arthropods have resistance to at least one pesticide. Consider glyphosate, the powerhouse weed killer used ubiquitously in the United States to protect major crops like corn and soybeans. A bit more than 20 years ago, crops were genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate, allowing them to survive exposure to the chemical while weeds perished.
By , some 90 percent of planted U. Unfortunately, as the evolutionary arms race progresses, many weeds have figured out how to evolve resistance to glyphosate, making the chemical increasingly ineffective and forcing farmers to look for other or new solutions. Some of these "new" solutions are actually old, as the herbicides 2,4-D and Dicamba, developed in the s and s, respectively, are currently getting a second look as possible widespread weed weapons. But the current incentives don't seem to be right for getting us off this treadmill.
Besides ecology and economics, the authors stress that sociological and political perspectives also set up roadblocks to solving the problems of pest resistance. Cultural practices by farmers—whether they till their land or not, how they use so-called refuges in combination with genetically modified crop areas and even how often they rotate their crops—all play a big role in pest resistance. The authors propose large-scale studies that would test the efficacy of a particular pesticide resistance strategy in one large area—thousands of acres or more—and how weeds and crop yields compare to large "control" areas that don't utilize that particular strategy.
Farmers would receive incentives to participate; perhaps subsidies already allocated to farmers could be shifted to provide these participatory incentives, the authors suggest. Explore further. More from Biology and Medical.
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E-mail the story Pesticide resistance needs attention, large-scale study Your friend's email Your email I would like to subscribe to Science X Newsletter. To expedite progress, we urge scientists in the public and private sectors to publish and analyze their resistance monitoring data in conjunction with relevant information on management practices, including the history of pest exposure to the pesticide.
Systematic analyses of such data can yield insights about the relationship between management practices and resistance evolution Hutchison et al. In general, the sooner steps are taken to delay resistance, the more likely they are to succeed. Finally, rather than debating definitions of resistance, we encourage discussion and analysis on a case-by-case basis engaging resistance experts, agricultural economists, stakeholders, industry scientists, and regulators to determine the management actions that will be most useful in response to specific data on the magnitude, distribution, and impact of resistance.
We thank Mark Sisterson and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript; and Gene Reagan, James Ottea, and Patricia Pietrantonio for their contributions to earlier drafts of definitions of resistance terms in response to the EPA initiative. Funding was provided by U. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.
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