The weekend lawn chores may become just a bit easier. Scotts Miracle-Gro has been given the green light to sell Roundup-ready Kentucky bluegrass without government approval. The U.S.D.A determined that the genetically modified bluegrass was exempt because the modification did not include plant pests.
Most Roundup-ready crops contain a slice of DNA from a plant virus that acts as a herbicide resistant trigger and falls under the U.S.D.A.’s control over plant pests. Scott’s genetically modified Kentucky bluegrass was provided herbicide resistance from other plants. Consequently, no plant pests and no federal regulation. Via NY Times.
Kentucky bluegrass may be the most popular grass in America as it is readily found in most lawns, golf courses, parks and prairies. As was with Roundup-ready crops, the Roundup-ready bluegrass will be extremely popular and should cut down on hours of lawn maintenance. Refusing to declare the genetically modified grass a noxious weed, the U.S.D.A. determined that the genetically modified grass does not pose any greater invasive threat than the conventional version.
While the exemption may be correct under the current regulations, the anti-GMO and organic crowds are fearful the decision may pave the way for deregulation of other GMO’s. Bev Hill, from Good Food 4 All points out other potential problems. For starters, she argues that glyphosphate is one of the leading contaminates of our nation’s waterways, which will worsen given an increase of the pesticide use in lawn care. Furthermore, extensive use of Roundup will eventually create Roundup-resistant superweeds leading to the application of more toxic pesticides. Read more.
Whether you are pro-Roundup or anti-Roundup, one does not have to stretch the imagination to consider the potential legal battles with genetically modified grass. Neighbors on opposite sides of the GMO fence may battle over invasiveness of the grass or even pesticide application. The organic industry may be affected if pastures grazed upon by organic livestock become tainted with genetically modified bluegrass. In addition, Bayer’s $750 million dollar settlement with farmers over genetically tainted rice crops, may entice future litigation in this area. Link to info on settlement here.
In any event it looks like the GMO fight is moving from the fields to the burbs.