New Bioengineered Golf Grass Sparks Fears

A new strain of grass bioengineered specifically for golf courses has enviros and even federal agencies nervous. The grass — a variation of creeping bentgrass, popular on fairways and putting greens because it grows sideways, creating a smooth surface — is bred to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. It would allow course owners to spray herbicide freely on the grass, to kill the little yellow weeds that so frustrate careful putters, without killing the grass itself. Critics, though, are worried that the grass could spread and stamp out biodiversity in natural ecosystems. These naysayers range from the delightfully named Anarchist Golfing Association, a fringe enviro group, to mainstream organizations such as the Sierra Club and government agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers. Scotts Co., which is developing the grass, claims it’s safe and unlikely to spread.