Several of those testifying walked back the alarmist tone of the hearing.

Jay Vroom, president of CropLife America, the organization representing the nation’s farm chemical manufacturers, pointed to three essential points to understand weed resistance to herbicides and the need for best management practices to minimize the potential for resistance development:

• Herbicide resistance occurs naturally, and best management practices need to be applied in ensuring that resistance development is avoided or delayed.

• The market can and will facilitate the development of solutions to combat the issue of weed resistance in crop production to ensure production of safe, affordable, and plentiful food.

• The current regulatory framework for herbicides is robust.

For more on Vroom’s work, see NPDES

Monsanto, which brought farmers wildly popular Roundup Ready crops starting in the mid-1990s, has come in for criticism as the corporate vector in the current rise of glyphosate-resistant weeds. When Roundup Ready crops were first introduced, the company downplayed warnings that an increase in resistant weeds would surely follow.

Phil Miller, Monsanto’s vice president of global regulatory, told the subcommittee the hearing was important.

“World population is growing,” said Miller. “In the next 40 years, or so, there will 9 billion people on our planet. … That’s the equivalent of three more Chinas.

“Farmers are increasingly being asked to produce more with less. Helping them do that is what Monsanto is all about.

“Our company has a commitment to sustainable agriculture. We’ll do our part to help farmers double yields in core crops of corn, cotton and soybeans between 2000 and 2030 while producing each bushel or bale with a third fewer resources.”

Miller also said the Roundup Ready system made the “adoption of conservation tillage practices feasible. … Before the Roundup Ready system was introduced, the environmental benefits of con-till were documented but adoption by growers had been limited. The broad enrollment of the Roundup Ready system has led to the reduction of plowing and tillage which has significantly reduced the loss of topsoil, reduced erosion, improved soil structure, reduced run-off of sediment and fertilizer, reduced on-farm fuel use, reduced CO2 emissions and increased carbon sequestration in the soil.”