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Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006 09:54 am

Creepy creeping bentgrass

Genetically engineered Frankenspecies gets loose


You never want to hear your dentist say, “Oops.” But “oops” is also something you never want to hear from biotech scientists who are genetically altering various plant species.

Messing with the very DNA of grains, veggies, and other plants is dangerous stuff, for there are many consequences of such corporate-sponsored manipulations. They are literally messing with Mother Nature, creating Frankenspecies in their labs, with no testing of the long-term impacts on human health or our environment.

So the “oops” that came out of Oregon in August was alarming. A genetically altered grass, with the horror-movie name of “creeping bentgrass,” was found growing in the wild. It’s not supposed to be there. It has the potential to create superweeds and was supposed to be carefully controlled in a test field. But — oops — it escaped.

Who is behind the development of this mutant? Monsanto. This biotech giant is working with the lawn-chemical outfit called Scotts to create a new grass for golf courses. Why? Because the old grass that Mother Nature makes will not tolerate enough pesticides. Specifically, Monsanto-Scott wants to spray an herbicide named Roundup on golf greens and fairways to kill weeds, but a Frankengrass that won’t die along with the weeds is needed.

Did I mention that Monsanto makes Roundup? And guess who’ll sell the new genetically altered, pesticide-absorbing bentgrass? Right: Scotts. So, for nothing more urgent than creating a Roundup-tolerant grass for golf courses so Monsanto and Scott can fatten their profits, we have a biotech “oops moment.”

Because these corporations can’t control their genetically altered spawn, their selfish, profit-driven experiments pose an ecological threat to all of us. To help stop biotech greed from ravaging Mother Nature, call the Organic Consumers Association at 218-226-4164.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist, and author.

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