Science: Grass Killer

Since Adam, agricultural thinkers have longed for a magic wand to make weeds disappear. The trouble is that weeds and crop plants are much alike; one farmer's weed may be another's crop. Any wholesale killer is apt to wipe out both together.

Both weeds and crops can be divided into two broad classes: grasses (wheat, corn, rice); and broad-leaved plants (cotton, vegetables, clovers). Scientists discovered several years ago that 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) would kill broad-leaved plants while leaving grasses alone. But it is no help at all to gardeners, truck farmers and fruit growers whose broad-leaved crop plants are being choked with...

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