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Test Plots Planted With Genetically Modified Grass for Golf Courses
(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2004)
Two multinational giants, Monsanto and Scotts, expect to make millions on a new type of genetically modified weed-resistant grass called Roundup Ready Creeping Bentgrass meant specifically for golf courses, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Eli Kintisch.

Like other “Roundup Ready” genetically modified products, the grass is engineered to survive high doses of Monsanto’s popular toxic herbicide Roundup. Yet, unlike other products, the creeping bentgrass would be the first ever genetically modified perennial species approved for use.

While genetically modified products are often shrouded in controversy due to the unknown and potentially harrowing effects they may have on the environment and human health, the bent grass has federal scientists disapproving of the product “marking the first time that government agencies have weighed in publicly against a genetically modified crop”, according to Kintisch's article.

The Forest Service is worried not only that the Roundup Ready grass could spread herbicide resistance (and create “super” weeds) but that the grass could also infect and fundamentally alter rare or native species with unfamiliar genes. Containment concerns are particularly at issue with a genetically modified perennial species as opposed to a food crop. As varieties of bentgrass grow naturally all over the continent they can easily and quickly spread and crossbreed throughout, affecting other grass species and appearing in various forms as resistant weeds. Although Scotts pledged to the Agriculture Department that it would only sell the grass to golf courses, containing the grass to the boundries of a golf course gets at the fundamental problem of genetically modified products.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to rule soon on whether the grass can be sold or not.

TAKE ACTION: Protect our land and food from genetically engineered (GE) ingredients and crops. Buy USDA certified organic products. Lobby your supermarket to label GE food. Support local efforts to prohibit growing GE crops (See Daily News articles "Vermont Senate Wants Farmers Protected from Biotech Companies" and
"Mendocino County, CA Bans Growing of Genetically Altered Crops and Animals"). Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative, U.S.EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt, and USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides' Genetic Engineering Page, Lawns and Landscapes Page, and Golf and The Environment Page.