Glyphosate [N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine] is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and crop desiccant. It is an organophosphorus compound, specifically a phosphonate, which acts by inhibiting the plant enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase. It is used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops.
Monsanto brought it to market for agricultural use in 1974 under the trade name Roundup, but its last commercially relevant United States patent expired in 2000.
Farmers quickly adopted glyphosate for agricultural weed control, especially after Monsanto introduced glyphosate-resistant Roundup Ready crops, enabling farmers to kill weeds without killing their crops. In 2007, glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the United States’ agricultural sector and the second-most used (after 2,4-D) in home and garden, government and industry, and commercial applications. From the late 1970s to 2016, there was a 100-fold increase in the frequency and volume of application of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) worldwide, with further increases expected in the future, partly in response to the global emergence and spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds requiring greater application to maintain effectiveness. The development of glyphosate resistance in weed species is emerging as a costly problem.
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