Ministry of Controversy

No-Mow Grass?

by Guest Blogger Carol of May Dreams Gardens

Does this have all the right ingredients for the next horror
movie, “Revenge of the Weeds” or is itLawn just an interesting little piece about a
grass that showed up where it wasn’t supposed to be?  I read
an item
in the morning paper
about how a genetically engineered creeping bentgrass
has been found growing out in the wild. According to the article, this is the first time this has happened but
they don’t believe this will cause an environmental threat.  This
particular bentgrass was engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate,
which is the primary ingredient in products like Roundup.

 There is also work being done on a type of grass that never
grows but always stays green so that it requires almost no care. What might that
do to the lawn care industry?  According
to Science
Daily
, “
they have deciphered the signaling pathway
for a key class of steroid
hormones that
regulates growth and development in plants.” The Science Daily article further states:

Manipulation of plant
stature has been a longstanding goal
in horticulture, agronomy, and forestry. The ability to precisely control
plant size would have broad implications for everything from urban forestry to
crop and garden plant development. Beyond perpetually short grass, trees could
be made more compact for better growth in crowded cities, and berry bushes could
be made taller for ease of harvesting.

Genetic engineering is not the plant breeding of Gregor
Mendel and other famous geneticists, who crossed species to develop hybrid
plants using the normal reproductive capabilities of the plants. Instead, genetic engineering uses processes
to manipulate the genes of the plant. When scientists can manipulate genes, they can create plants that have
better scent, better disease resistance, higher vitamin content and
longer-lasting flowers. It would seem
the possibilities are nearly endless, but should they be?

Posted by on August 27, 2006 at 3:51 pm, in the category Ministry of Controversy.
Comments are off for this post

4 responses to “No-Mow Grass?”

  1. Susan says:

    Very intriguing, and I’m confused as hell about the issue. My first exposure to it was in the book Second Nature, in which Pollan made the case that genetic engineering is the best hope for drastically reducing pesticide usage on our foodcrops. The culprit is our overpopulation, which forces us to make the land produce much more than it used to. I reluctantly accept the reality that humans have changed some things that aren’t going to change back.

  2. firefly says:

    Susan, these links might help:

    Center for Science in the Public Interest Biotechnology Project

    http://www.cspinet.org/biotech/

    Has background information on genetically modified organisms and pros and cons.

    Independent Science Panel Statements

    On Roundup-Ready Creeping Bentgrass

    “The impact of expanded urban and natural area use of glyphosate was hardly discussed in the petition for deregulation and environmental assessment, but that discussion was crucial and should have been included. Glyphosate is toxic to human placental cells within 18 hr at concentrations lower than recommended agricultural use, and Roundup more so than glyphosate. Surprisingly, Roundup was always more toxic than its active ingredient.”

    http://www.indsp.org/DGTCBOQ.php

    On Deregulating Transgenic Plum

    “One potential problem with the C5 event released into the environment is the transfer of the NPTII kanamycin [an antibiotic] resistance gene to soil bacteria and in turn, to animal pathogens. The NPTII gene was extensively transferred from transgenic sugar beet to a soil bacterium, Actinobacter, in an experimental situation. Even though the rootstock for the C5 plum is not transgenic and not able to transfer the NPII gene, the autumn leaves, shed bark and flowers of the plum would certainly deliver a good quantity of the antibiotic resistance gene to the soil.”

    http://www.indsp.org/transgenicPlum.php

    I’ve been reading about these things for a few years now, and it consistently seems that the problem is not the technologies themselves, but the human testing and management of them. Most of the companies involved in these processes want regulatory approval yesterday so they can make profits tomorrow, and they don’t test thoroughly. (See the CSPI discussion on Bt corn and luck regarding the Monarch butterfly.)

    I disagree with Pollan’s notion that genetically engineered crops are the answer, because if bacteria can evolve antibiotic resistance, it’s only a matter of time before the insects evolve resistance to whatever pathogen and/or industrial chemical is spliced into crops. Evolution will just end-run around roadblocks like that.

    The overpopulation/starvation question is much less a matter of production than it is of politics and profit. Big corporations, however, prefer to focus on the “starvation” issue because it plays well with everyone, especially those who would otherwise strongly resist GM organisms.

  3. Nancy May says:

    I called the 866-No Mow Grass number and the grass from NomowGrass.com is not a genetic modification nor is it resistant to herbicides. She said they’ve been online since ’94 with the website and was the only one then selling a “no mow grass” but since then 20 or 30 sites have popped up. In upcoming years they have plans to release select native grasses for those who are going native.

  4. Marion says:

    Note the 866 No-Mow Grass number has been updated to: 888-Low.Grow or visit NoMowGrass.com for No Mow grass seed details. Thanks-Staff NoMowGrass.com

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