A decade of herbicide-resistant crops in Canada
This review examines some agronomic, economic, and environmental impacts of herbicide-resistant (HR) canola, soybean, corn, and wheat in Canada after 10 years of growing HR cultivars. The rapid adoption of HR canola and soybean suggests a net economic benefit to farmers. HR crops often have improved weed management, greater yields or economic returns, and similar or reduced environmental impact compared with their non-HR crop counterparts. There are no marked changes in volunteer weed problems associated with these crops, except in zero-tillage systems when glyphosate is used alone to control canola volunteers. Although gene flow from glyphosate-HR canola to indigenous populations of bird’s rape in eastern Canada has been measured, enrichment of hybrid plants in such populations should only occur when and where herbicide selection pressure is applied. Weed shifts as a consequence of HR canola have been documented, but a reduction in weed species diversity has not been demonstrated. Reliance on HR crops in rotations using the same mode-of-action-herbicide and/or multiple in-crop herbicide applications over time can result in intense selection pressure for weed resistance and consequently, greater herbicide use in the future to control HR weed biotypes. History has repeatedly shown that cropping system diversity is the pillar of sustainable agriculture; stewardship of HR crops must adhere to this fundamental principle.
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