The costs of human-induced evolution in an agricultural system

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Varah, A., Ahodo, K., Coutts, S. R., Hicks, H. L., Comont, D., Crook, L., Hull, R. I., Neve, P., Childs, D. Z., Freckleton, R. P. and Norris, K. 2019. The costs of human-induced evolution in an agricultural system. Nature Sustainability.

AuthorsVarah, A., Ahodo, K., Coutts, S. R., Hicks, H. L., Comont, D., Crook, L., Hull, R. I., Neve, P., Childs, D. Z., Freckleton, R. P. and Norris, K.
Abstract

Pesticides have underpinned significant improvements in global food security, albeit with associated environmental costs. Currently, the yield benefits of pesticides are threatened as overuse has led to wide-scale evolution of resistance. Despite this threat, there are no large-scale estimates of crop yield losses or economic costs due to resistance. Here, we combine national-scale density and resistance data for the weed Alopecurus myosuroides (black-grass) with crop yield maps and an economic model to estimate that the annual cost of resistance in England is £0.4 billion in lost gross profit (2014 prices) and annual wheat yield loss due to resistance is 0.8 million tonnes. A total loss of herbicide control against black-grass would cost £1 billion and 3.4 million tonnes of lost wheat yield annually. Worldwide, there are 253 herbicide-resistant weeds, so the global impact of resistance could be enormous. Our research supports urgent national-scale planning to combat resistance and an incentive for increasing yields through food-production systems rather than herbicides.

Year of Publication2019
JournalNature Sustainability
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1038/s41893-019-0450-8
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
Funder project or codeMultiple Herbicide Resistance in Grass Weeds: from Genes to AgroEcosystems
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online23 Dec 2019
Publication process dates
Accepted12 Nov 2019
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISSN2398-9629

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