[Scotts Miracle-Gro‘s unapproved genetically modified] grass has taken root in Oregon…the self-professed grass seed capital of the world with a billion-dollar-a-year industry at stake. The grass has proven hard to kill because it’s been modified to be resistant to Roundup, the ubiquitous, all-purpose herbicide.
The battle pits farmer against farmer, regulator against regulator, seller against buyer. Scotts spokesman Jim King insists the company has done its part and significantly reduced the modified grass’s territory. The US Department of Agriculture, which for 14 years had refused to deregulate the controversial grass on environmental concerns, suddenly reversed course last fall and signaled it could grant the company’s request.
Scotts launched field trials throughout the country, including in Canyon County, Idaho, and Jefferson County, Oregon.
On two occasions in August 2003, hot afternoon winds whipped through the fields north of Madras, scattering the modified seed seed for miles, including into the Crooked River National Grasslands. Signs of the altered grass were found 13 miles away from the test fields, according to federal documents.
Jefferson County grass seed growers have already been dealing with contamination. The altered grass has at times sprouted in their fields of Kentucky bluegrass, requiring them to implement laborious seed cleaning processes.
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