Iowa State University


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Just the facts, Governor
by Bob Hartzler

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October 14, 1999 --  The introduction of Roundup-Ready soybeans has provided weed managers several new options, but it also has created unrealistic expectations, confusion and the potential for costly mistakes. An article in the July 22 Des Moines Register shows that these problems are not limited to persons involved in weed management, but reach all the way to the highest levels of state government. According to the article, 'Governor Terry Branstad regaled occasionally bewildered members of the Washington press corps with tales of artificial insemination of pigs, Roundup-Ready soybeans and Iowa-grown ostrich meat.'

The Governor described several technological advances that are rapidly changing Iowa agriculture. When asked what is a Roundup-Ready soybean, 'Branstad explained Roundup is an herbicide used on corn that might carry over and damage soybeans planted in the same field the next year, so beans have been developed that will resist the chemical. "Roundup-Ready beans, no problems" he said.'

Governor Branstad is not the only person having problems keeping this technology straight. There have been several reports of situations such as fields of Liberty-Link corn being treated with Lightning rather than Liberty. With the adoption of any new technology there will be mistakes, and most people will learn the lesson the first time when treating a herbicide resistant crop with the wrong product.

As far as unrealistic expectations for Roundup, there is no doubt that it has numerous advantages over most existing products. However, we must keep in mind that weeds have adapted quickly to every other herbicide that has been introduced, and it is likely that we will see the same with Roundup-Ready and other herbicide resistant crops.

Prepared by Bob Hartzler, extension weed management specialist, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University

For more information contact:
ISU Extension Agronomy
2104 Agronomy Hall
Ames, Iowa 50011-1010
Voice: (515) 294-1923
Fax: (515) 294-9985
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Common chemical and trade names are used in this publication. The use of trade names is for clarity by the reader. Inclusion of a trade name does not imply endorsement of that particular brand of herbicide and exclusion does not imply nonapproval.