Roundup Ready crops are crops genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup. Roundup is the brand-name of a herbicide produced by Monsanto. Its active ingredient glyphosate was patented in the 1970s. Roundup is widely used by both people in their backyards and farmers in their fields. Roundup Ready plants are resistant to Roundup, so farmers that plant these seeds must use Roundup to keep other weeds from growing in their fields.
The first Roundup Ready crops were developed in 1996, with the introduction of genetically modified soybeans that are resistant to Roundup. These crops were developed to help farmers control weeds. Because the new crops are resistant to Roundup, the herbicide can be used in the fields to eliminate unwanted foliage. Current Roundup Ready crops include soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton, and sorghum, with wheat under development.
Roundup Ready crop seeds have notoriously been referred to as "terminator seeds." This is because the crops produced from Roundup Ready seeds are sterile. Each year, farmers must purchase the most recent strain of seed from Monsanto. This means that farmers cannot reuse their best seed. Read more about terminator seeds.