It’s an alarming pattern affecting both agriculture and human medicine, say two experts.

On one hand, farmers are left scratching their heads wondering why certain weeds have become resistant to common herbicides; on the other, physicians across the U.S. are seeing patients becoming resistant to common, prescription antibiotic drugs.

In both farming and human medicine, traditional tools used to solve routine problems may no longer be as effective as they used to be.

“In both agriculture and medicine, we may have been using too much of a good thing and it’s catching up with us,” said Dr. Paul Baumann, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service state weed specialist.

For example, Baumann said glyphosate (Roundup and other products) is highly effective, “because it binds a specific enzyme that’s needed to produce plant proteins.”

“It is a highly effective herbicide that controls a large number of weeds and can be used safely in crops that have glyphosate-resistant genes,” Baumann said.  “These positive features have led to continued, widespread use and in many cases as the only herbicide in the program.  This has been the foundation for what we are seeing as weed resistance in some parts of Texas, but predominantly in the Southeastern U.S.”

Herbicide-resistant weeds such as Palmer amaranth began to pop up in Georgia cotton fields in 2004 and have since continued to escalate due to the repetitive use of glyphosate herbicide and nothing else.