Scientists report in the May 21 Science that they have engineered plants capable of detoxifying lethal doses of the heavily used herbicide glyphosate, while showing no setback in growth. The new genes could help corn, soybeans, and other crops benefit from the herbicide later than before in the growing season without affecting flower and seed development, says the team that published their findings, and field trials are underway.

“Commercialization of this trait may provide competition to Roundup Ready crops,” researcher Linda Castle of Verdia in Redwood City, Calif., told The Scientist. “Verdia is working with Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. to evaluate the commercial potential in corn and with Delta and Pine Land Company to evaluate the commercial utility of the trait in cotton.”

However, the potential for such enhanced herbicide resistance genes spreading to wild cousins to create superweeds “is a serious concern,” said Henry Daniell, professor of molecular...

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