First Evidence That Weed Killers Improve Nutritional Value Of Sweet Corn

For the first time, scientists report that the use of weed killers actually boosts the nutritional value of an important food crop.


Two commonly used herbicides were applied to several varieties of sweet corn and significantly increased to amount of key nutrients in the corn kernels. The results are scheduled for publication in the July 22 issue of Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, according to an item posted on

The study says that corn is a good source of zeaxanthin carotenoids, and that eating vegetables rich in this may reduce heart disease, cancer, and age-related vision loss.

Scientists exposed several varieties of sweet corn plants to the herbicide mesotrione or a combination of mesotrione and atrazine. Mature corn was harvested 45 days later. Herbicide applications made the corn an even-better source of carotenoids, boosting levels in the mature kernels of some varieties by up to 15 percent. It specifically increased levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, the major carotenoids in sweet corn kernels.

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