Saturday, August 27, 2011

Genetically-Modified Lawns

Coming to a lawn near you: Scotts Roundup-Ready Kentucky Bluegrass, courtesy of Monsanto.

Do we really want to see our neighbors growing genetically-modified plants, and dousing them with Roundup?

Some background: Roundup is an herbicide (plant-killer) manufactured by Monsanto.

Historically, herbicides been used on small, concentrated areas of weeds on farms, in gardens, and in yards, and for clearing out larger areas that might be overgrown with weeds. They have also been used in wars for destroying forests and other natural features, sometimes with little concern for other environmental effects.

In recent decades, Monsanto has genetically engineered varieties of plants that are immune to Roundup. So, for instance, you can grow a field of Monsanto canola and spray the WHOLE THING with Roundup, not just the weeds. This is much quicker than mechanical weeding, or than selective use of herbicides, and of course it is much more profitable for Monsanto.

The news now is that you can now have a genetically-modified, Roundup-resistant lawn. You can soak the whole thing in herbicide, kill all the weeds, and it will be perfect and weed-free.

Great! What's the problem?

First of all, many scientists say that GMO plants are dangerous to humans, animals, and the environment. Jeffrey Smith's excellent website gives an overview of the issues.

Second of all, the approval process for the GMO grass was, well, not existent. The USDA claimed that it did not have the authority to regulate the grass. The approval process for GMO foods has been inadequate, too, but at least there has been an effort to preserve appearances.

Third of all, regardless of the above, we are now going to see our neighborhoods sprayed with way more Roundup than ever before. And even though Roundup is approved for use in the US, there is a lot of evidence that it is toxic (and here)—enough that it is banned in many other countries.

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