GM Products Should Be Tested Scientifically Before Used
Biotech Grass Poses Widespread Environmental Contamination Risks
Once again, big corporations are using lobbyists instead of science to get an untested and potentially dangerous product approved. It's cheaper and faster than doing a scientific study -- they simply pay lobbyists to get government approval to sell their untested products. You and your children are being used as guinea pigs.
Here is the newest danger, explained by the International Center for Technology Assessment.
MONSANTO AND SCOTTS PREPARED TO MARKET GENE ALTERED LAWN GRASS TO VAST HOME AND COMMERCIAL RETAIL MARKETS
The International Center for Technology Assessment (CTA), a non-profit public interest group, filed a formal legal petition asking the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to block the release of the first-ever genetically engineered (GE) plant intended for use by homeowners and property managers. Biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. and Scotts Co., the leading lawn and garden product marketer, are seeking Federal approval to commercialize a GE creeping bentgrass, the turfgrass preferred for golf course greens and used in countless lawns across the country.
The GE grass variety is resistant to the top-selling weedkiller Roundupô, a brand owned by Monsanto for which it has licensed exclusive marketing rights to Scotts. Currently, use of the Roundup weedkiller is limited to spot spraying of weeds in that the herbicide kills any grass it comes in contact with. The new GE grass has been altered to be resistant to the weedkiller so that users will be able to spray entire lawns, fields and golf courses with the chemical without fear of hurting the grass. Large scale planting of the GE grass would therefore massively increase the amounts of herbicide used in home lawns, sports fields, schools and golf courses around the country.
"Monsanto and Scotts are asking for government approval to massively increase the chemical contamination of our neighborhoods, playing fields, and other recreational areas," said CTA Executive Director Andrew Kimbrell. "Their pursuit of biotech profits is putting our children and our communities at risk, and we will use any legal means to prevent this," Kimbrell concluded.
Beyond the increase in chemical pollution, CTA also describes the major "biological pollution" threat presented by the GE grass. Creeping bentgrass itself is broadly recognized as a difficult to control weed. It is a wind-pollinated species whose pollen blows easily for hundreds of yards and it readily hybridizes with other grasses. The fact that the leading weedkiller Roundup cannot kill the proposed GE variety will significantly increase the effort, cost and environmental damage necessary to get rid of it where it is unwanted. In many natural areas and parks, where non-native creeping bentgrass already is a serious invader, the herbicide resistant grass could become an almost impossible to eradicate "superweed." The herbicide resistance genes could also "jump" from the bentgrass to other weeds thereby making them dangerous "superweeds." This potential environmental disaster could lead to financial liability problems for Monsanto, Scotts and the retailers and end users of the GE product.
Peter T. Jenkins, CTA's attorney and policy analyst on the petition, stated: "What Monsanto and Scotts are doing to creeping bentgrass will make it a more threatening invasive species for those who don't want it in their lawn or park. Their proposal amounts to genetic assault and battery, recklessness and trespassing."
Citing legal precedents and an array of scientific evidence, CTA's petition argues that USDA officials must not approve release of the GE variety and instead must list it as a noxious weed under the Federal Plant Protection Act. Should the CTA petition be rejected, the organization will file suit in Federal court to halt any approval.
Prior to CTA's formal legal petition a number of groups including the American Society of Landscape Architects (more than 14,000 members nationally); The Nature Conservancy (the largest holder of private land preserves in the world); and the public interest group, the Foundation on Economic Trends wrote letters to USDA requesting a moratorium on the approval and release of the GE grass.
For a copy of the CTA petition, see: www.icta.org, under Actions. The USDA website listing the application for the product is: www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/biotech/petday.html , petition no. 02-122-01p.
Be sure to see Fred Foldvary's editorial on Genetically Manipulated Food
So Monsanto and Scotts want people to use more and more toxic chemicals -- and are willing to place your children's safety at risk. What's your opinion? Tell your views to The Progress Report:
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