An overreliance on herbicides in several important grain- and cotton-producing regions of the world has led to the widespread evolution of herbicide-resistant weed populations. Of particular concern are weed populations that exhibit simultaneous resistance to multiple herbicides (MHR). Too often, herbicides are the only tool used for weed control. We use the term herbicide-only syndrome (HOS) for this quasi-addiction to herbicides. Growers and their advisers focus on herbicide technology, unaware of or ignoring basic evolutionary principles or the necessary diversity provided by other methods of weed control. Diversity in weed control practices disrupts resistance evolution. Significant challenges exist to implementing diversity, including how to address information so that producers choose to alter existing behaviors (HOS) and take calculated risks by attempting new and more complex strategies. Herbicide resistance management in the long term will require creativity in many sectors, including roles for growers, industry, researchers, consultants, retailers, and regulators. There can be creativity in herbicide registration and regulation, as exemplified by the recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that encourages herbicide registrants to register products in minor crops. We propose one idea for a regulatory incentive to enable herbicide registrants in jurisdictions such as the United States to receive an extended data exclusivity period in exchange for not developing one new herbicide in multiple crops used together in rotation, or for implementing stewardship practices such as robust mixtures or limitations on application frequency. This incentive would provide a mechanism to register herbicides in ways that help to ensure herbicide longevity. Approaches based only on market or financial incentives have contributed to the current situation of widespread MHR. Our suggestion for regulatory creativity is one way to provide both financial and biological benefits to the registering company and to the overall stakeholder community by incentivizing good resistance management.
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Vol. 64 • No. sp1
Special Issue 2016