Roundup Ready crops, produced by the Mosanto Corporation, are genetically altered crops which are tolerant of glyphosate. Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide and is the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller Roundup. Many herbicide manufacturers now use glyphosate in their commercial products, potent formulas designed for farm use. However, glyphosate is an indiscriminate herbicide, damaging or killing crops as well as weeds. Glyphosate does not harm Roundup Ready crops, enabling farmers to apply the herbicide over wide areas.
Roundup Ready crops withstand early herbicide treatments. This reduces the number of weeds and allows the crops to readily out-compete the weeds. The early treatment also delays weed growth, resulting in fewer weed problems later in the season and a larger window of opportunity when treating weeds. Many Roundup Ready crops do not need a second glyphosate application, further reducing maintenance.
Roundup Ready crops have similar yields as conventional crops, and are, in some cases, higher. Although the best varieties of conventional seeds produced larger yields than the best Roundup Ready seeds, the Roundup Ready yields were equivalent to average yields of conventional crops. In crops like alfalfa, according to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, weeds delay the initial growth. Using Roundup Ready alfalfa enabled the growers to treat the weeds early, resulting in stronger alfalfa plants.
Because Roundup Ready plants require only one post-emergent herbicide application, growers save money on herbicides and application. The reduced spraying results in fewer trips across the fields, less product to buy and less competition from weeds. For example, the highest-yielding Roundup Ready soybean seeds cost more, but the net profit per bushel is slightly higher than conventional soybeans, according to the University of Wisconsin Extension. Saving time and money on additional herbicide applications outweighs the higher initial cost, as long as growers select high-yielding varieties.