Have Modified Genes, Will Travel
Genetically modified plants spreading hither and thither
Genes from genetically modified grass can spread much farther than previously believed, according to a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study focused on a new strain of creeping bentgrass — commonly used on golf courses for its resilience — developed by two companies, Monsanto and Scotts, to be resistant to the common herbicide Roundup. Critics, including enviro groups, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, have worried that the pollen from bentgrass, which is extremely light, will spread where it’s not wanted and possibly create herbicide-resistant “superweeds.” In the study, scientists at the U.S. EPA found that the GM bentgrass pollinated plants as far away as they measured, up to 13 miles downwind. The new results could set back plans by biotech companies to develop GM grasses for residential use. In other creepy news, Chinese scientists have complained that the millions of GM trees planted to combat desertification are essentially untracked and are so widely planted that, in the words of one scientist, “pollen and seed dispersal cannot be prevented.” It’s a GM world now, folks!