Quantcast

Roundup Ready GMO Grass Coming to a Lawn Near You?

Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is developing another variety of GMO grass that's engineered to withstand applications of glyphosate

GMO

Scotts Miracle-Gro is developing yet another variety of genetically modified (GMO) grass that's engineered to withstand applications of glyphosate, the controversial main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller.

This latest effort follows Scotts's first fiasco with GMO turf. In 1997, the lawn care company teamed up with Monsanto to create GMO grass for golf courses. Unfortunately, their bio-enhanced creeping bentgrass escaped from field trials into the Oregon wild in 2003, thus eliminating any chance of federal approval for commercial use, as the New York Times reported in 2006.

Scotts was fined $500,000 for the incident but their lab-grown grass is still found in parts of Oregon, and has sparked concerns from local residents and organic livestock farmers who are worried that the hard-to-eradicate grass could invade pastures or contaminate non-GMO hay or grain fields.

According to Forbes, trials are already underway for Scotts's latest Roundup Ready grass that grows at half the speed of conventional grass. The company hopes the novel grass will enter the market in three years. As the publication detailed:

[Scotts Miracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn] and his team leveraging unpatented gene research to create new kinds of turf. Using technology previously developed by a scientist at Cornell, Scotts is mechanically implanting genes into crop varieties, instead of using agrobacterium. That means Scotts scientists can now develop new grasses without going through the standard USDA regulatory process.

Scotts's new GMO grass is an example of a company taking advantage of a new legal loophole that has allowed certain types of GMOs, such as the CRISPR-edited white button mushroom, bypass government regulations. This growing trend in biotechnology has critics speaking out mainly because these GMOs fall outside of regulatory authority.

"They are using a technical loophole so that what are clearly genetically engineered crops and organisms are escaping regulation," Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumers Union, told the New York Times last year about Scotts's GMO grass, adding that the plants "can have all sorts of ecological impact and no one is required to look at it."

Scotts believes that their unregulated GMO grass will help gardeners uses less fertilizer and will require less maintenance, Forbes noted.

Ronnie Cummins, founder and international director of the Organic Consumers Association, criticized Scotts's genetically engineered grass in a 2014 blog post:

Beyond its ability to spread quickly, beyond its potential impact on organic farmers, even more troubling is the fact that once Scotts Roundup Ready grass hits the market, it will lead to a dramatic increase in the use of Roundup, already the most widely used—and potentially harmful—herbicide in the world.

GMO Free USA has previously urged a boycott on Scotts Miracle-Gro and has called on gardening centers such as Home Depot and Lowes to not sell the product:

GMO Roundup Ready grass will result in a further increase in the use of Roundup, which has already contaminated our groundwater and drinking water. Imagine your children and pets frolicking around in a sea of herbicidal poison. Because of potential widespread use and inevitable contamination, the grass is likely to be eaten by grass grazing animals. There has been no toxicity testing and the potential harm to animals eating this GMO grass is unknown. Will we be saying, "good-bye," to pasture raised meat?

Over 60 million acres of farmland in the U.S. have been infested with Roundup resistant superweeds, leading to ever increasing applications of Roundup and additional toxic herbicides. Homeowners across America are being led down the same path of chemical warfare in their own backyards.

GMO Free USA has called on a boycott on Scotts Miracle-Gro: "You can spray your whole yard with Roundup and your grass won't die. Then your children and pets can frolic in carcinogens."GMO Free USA

Interestingly, Bloomberg reported earlier this year that Monsanto and Scotts have petitioned the USDA to remove restrictions on the creeping bentgrass that was inadvertently set wild from the lab more than 10 years ago. They are not seeking to sell the grass but to destroy it. Scotts spokesman Jim King told Bloomberg they want deregulation so when the grass is found growing wild, it won't trigger environmental concerns and can be eradicated like any other weed.

Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, wrote for Oregon Live that after all these years, Monsanto and Scotts are still fighting the invasive bentgrass with "herbicides even more toxic than Roundup." He adds that the companies are seeking deregulation because "if the USDA grants their petition, the ongoing invasion suddenly becomes Oregon's problem, not Scotts' and Monsanto's."

Concerns about GMOs aside, in previous EcoWatch posts, we mentioned how wasteful and purely ornamental lawns can be. California residents, for instance, are encouraged to let their turf go brown in order to preserve the drought-ridden state's precious water.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tim P. Whitby / 21st Century Fox / Getty Images

The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.

Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.

The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
A protest march against the Line 3 pipeline in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 18, 2018. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Collin Rees

We know that people power can stop dangerous fossil fuel projects like the proposed Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, because we've proved it over and over again — and recently we've had two more big wins.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Scientists released a study showing that a million species are at risk for extinction, but it was largely ignored by the corporate news media. Danny Perez Photography / Flickr / CC

By Julia Conley

Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

Read More Show Less
DoneGood

By Cullen Schwarz

Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We're far more familiar with the "tried and tested" methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

Summer is fast approaching, which means it's time to stock up on sunscreen to ward off the harmful effects of sun exposure. Not all sunscreens are created equally, however.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images

The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.

Read More Show Less
Flooding in Winfield, Missouri this month. Jonathan Rehg / Getty Images

President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.

"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.

Read More Show Less
Reed Hoffmann / Getty Images

Violent tornadoes tore through Missouri Wednesday night, killing three and causing "extensive damage" to the state's capital of Jefferson City, The New York Times reported.

"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."

Read More Show Less