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posted by janrinok on Monday January 09 2017, @02:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the but-it's-safe-I-tell-you dept.

Sometime around 2003 Scotts GMO grass crop in Idaho escaped its plot and blew across the Snake River into Oregon up to 30 miles away. The crop in question is a Roundup ready creeping bentgrass that is used for putting greens. Regulators and locals are in for a fight as Scotts is ready to abandon the ongoing approximately $250,000 per year effort to eradicate the grass in favor of running an informative website on Roundup ready bentgrass removal. Scotts canceled the development program because the golf industry is experiencing a decline, yet the company still wants the product deregulated.

Locals are left holding the bag as it threatens Oregon's international reputation as a "GMO-free" grass-grower and its seed industry. Regardless of whether direct genetic modification is bad in and of itself, grasses are an important crop for the state. Additionally, the grass has been found interbreeding with other feral grasses. Interestingly, the company has hired an attorney that specializes in bio-diversity to defend its interests.

The battle pits farmer against farmer, regulator against regulator, seller against buyer. Scotts spokesman Jim King insists the company has done its part and significantly reduced the modified grass's territory. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which for 14 years had refused to deregulate the controversial grass on environmental concerns, suddenly reversed course last fall and signaled it could grant the company's request as early as this week.

Many find the prospect alarming. The Oregon and Idaho departments of agriculture oppose deregulation, as does U.S. Fish and Wildlife, which predicted commercialization of the grass could drive endangered species to extinction.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @02:55AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @02:55AM (#451300)

    So if they can't ethically put in a terminator gene, the least they could do is put in extra susceptibility to some form of herbicide. Farmers who want the stuff can spray round-up, but farmers who dodn't want the stuff can spray an herbicide that doesn't normally kill grass.

    Of course that doesn't help when it interbreeds and evolves away from that susceptibility. But it would be better than nothing.

  • (Score: 2) by fishybell on Monday January 09 2017, @03:50AM

    by fishybell (3156) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 09 2017, @03:50AM (#451308)

    ...and after it interbreeds with other grasses, they *all* have the terminator gene. It makes the follow up product of "won't be accidentally eradicated by terminator gene" all that much more appealing.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @04:54AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @04:54AM (#451323)

    Who says they can't ethically put the terminator gene in there? The issue with the terminator gene is that Monsanto was using it as a means of forcing farmers to buy new seed year after year.

    Personally, I think that it ought to be mandatory for any and all GMO for the very reason that it makes problems like the one in the story much less likely to occur.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @05:23AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @05:23AM (#451333)

      If grass had a terminator gene then you'd be forced to constantly replant it year after year. Though some people seem to do that anyway...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @05:46AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @05:46AM (#451335)

        I see no problem with that. If you want grass that lasts more than one year, get something that isn't GMO.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @05:02AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @05:02AM (#451326)

    I know of a farmer (I rented a house on his farm) who has Roundup-resistant annual Ryegrass growing in his fields. He's never planted RR-ready seed (it's banned in the Willamette Valley). Annual Ryegrass is pretty persistent...
    Luckily, it's in a field he usually grew wheat or perennial rye grass in, so the seed is different enough it can be cleaned out from what he was intending to grow.
    Grass pollen can cross-pollinate to other similar grass types (perennial & annual Ryegrasses, etc). There are commercial hybrids between the two, btw...