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From November 30, 2001

Oregon Considering Experimental Farm for Roundup Ready Crop

Scotts and Monsanto chemical corporations are proposing an 11,000-acre site in Oregon to produce genetically modified creeping bent grass, according to The Portland Oregonian. Creeping bent grass is used on golf courses and would provide area farmers with a market. But critics are concerned about increased pesticide use as well as genetic drift of the seeds, which could produce a super weed. In response to the farmers that hold concerns about genetically modified crops, Agency Plains farmer Ron Olson blamed the media. "There is apprehension on the part of growers, but that is the mindset instilled by the press that opposes anything that's genetically modified."

However, there are valid reasons to be concerned. The genetically modified grass that would be grown is not sold commercially, and is currently under federal regulatory review. Although the plans for the experimental site include a 25-mile containment border, it is still possible for the seeds to drift. A Washington University professor, Philip Bereano, thinks there may be health implications due to pollen. "We don't know what health effects there might be if the pollen does get in the air and it's inhaled by animals or humans," he said.

Pesticides on golf courses that use the genetically modified creeping bent grass is yet another concern. Because the grass is resistant to Roundup, the pesticide can be sprayed over the entire course instead of just spot sprayed on the weeds, thereby increasing pesticide use and possible exposures to humans.

There is a written public comment period regarding this experimental farm until December 19, 2001. A state spokesman said the decision would be made 30 days from the end of this period.

For more information regarding golf courses and pesticides, please contact Beyond Pesticides.