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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: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @05:51AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09 2017, @05:51AM (#451337)

    That's been known for a very long time now. It's been years since these sorts of stories started popping up, and that's just when the stories started popping up, the problem is much older.

    And, anybody with a lick of common sense would have seen this coming. Unless you alter the genome to such an extent that the organism can no longer cross breed with any naturally occuring plants, it's just a matter of time before plants being planted with no control wind up infecting other plants.

    I get that it's expensive to keep these sorts of crops under proper quarantine, but what happens if they combine in unpredictable ways that cause serious problems? There's enough problems with things like Japanese Knotweed, Scot's Broom, Kudzu and purple lustrife without adding the GMO variable to it. All of those are perfectly fine when they're in their native habitat, but allow them to grow elsewhere and they become incredibly disruptive. I cringe at the thought of any of them with special resistances to herbicides.

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