Can badly risk-assessed GMO grass genes be contained? It looks like Oregon will unfortunately be the 1st test case of the federal government shifting the job of managing GMO grass escapees to a state. Federal government regulatory failure, exacerbated by Obama’s USDA Secretary Vilsack, has essentially backed shifting GMO escapee control costs to states. In November of 2016, at the request of Scott’s and Monsanto, the USDA APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services section deregulated the grass stating: ” there is no longer any authority for APHIS to require a permit or notification for the importation, interstate movement, or environmental release of the regulated article pursuant to 7 CFR part 340.” In short, the federal government mismanaged the GMO grass control, and came up with this scheme for states to bear a dreadful burden. Can the promiscuous GMO genes be controlled or has the federal government opened up a wild Pandora’s Box?
A couple of years ago, the Connecticut legislature, under the forward looking leadership of Senate President Pro Tem Don Williams, put forth a pre-emptive initiative to keep promiscuous and pesticide-dependent GMO bluegrass genes out of CT lawns and ecosystems. However, Scott’s seed company, biotech industry interests and other political and industry interests, worked behind the scenes to stymie the legislation despite approval at the legislative committee level. Not only is GMO grass gene spread a critical issue wherever it has been tested, but containment is very problematic. The Federal government should not unfairly offload costly and risky control burdens to states via deregulation of the GMO grasses. Many states do not have the wherewithal to address these Pandora’s Box runaway genes, which independent scientists, researchers and many legislators have warned about for years. Instead , with the Oregon bentgrass deregulation and USDA easing the way, Scott’s has exploited a loophole to test the viability of GMO pesticide-dependent bluegrass in undisclosed locations, without public knowledge and lacking robust risk assessment. Instead of due diligence employing the Precautionary Principle as Europe has done to protect the public, the federal government has allowed Scott’s and other companies to situate test plots in unposted areas (unbeknownst to adjacent land owners) which could result in contamination of neighboring lands, nonGMO farm produce and more.
Consumers are at a serious disadvantage of being informed about Scott’s GMO pesticide-dependent lawn seed because is unlabeled due to negligent government risk assessment and industry-orchestrated PR science. It will also contribute to homeowner well water and surface water toxin contamination from applications of Roundup. And what if stronger pesticides like 2,4-D, Dicamba (and worse!) are used in a fruitless attempt to contain the Kentucky bluegrass and other GMO escapee grasses? Pesticide resistance is continuing to increase and more will have to be applied. Additionally, risks of export crop infiltration by unknown GMO genes could continue to result in losses to American export crops, particularly as many nations that will not accept GMO gene contamination.