Why Is Genetically Modified Bluegrass Exempt From Federal Regulation?


photo: Peter Kaminski/Creative Commons

In the head scratcher of the week, New York Times reports that the US Department of Agriculture has decided that genetically modified bluegrass developed by Scotts Miracle-Gro can be sold without any federal oversight. The grass seed, intended for lawns, has been modified to be resistant to the popular herbicide Roundup. USDA exempted the GM grass seed because "its creation did not entail use of any plant pests."

NYT has the usual reaction quotes from both anti-GM activists ("it's an end run around regulatory oversight") and pro-GM developers (paraphrasing, the regulatory process is too slow and impedes new crop development). It's the usual call and response.

Considering that in 2007 Scotts was fined half a million dollars after another grass variety it is developing (destined for golf courses, not home lawns) escaped from test plots and established itself in the wild, while the USDA decision may be following the letter of the law it certainly doesn't seem to be following its spirit.

Through it does seem to be following one side of the swelling spirit of the nation: Adolescent pouting about being told you can't just do whatever you like in the world ignoring the consequences.

EU Member States Will Be Able To Ban GM Crops Approved At Federal Level
Meanwhile, the European Union looks poised to allow individual member states to ban GM crops in their territory, even if they have been approved at the EU level. While attitudes in the EU towards GM crops are generally more precautionary than in the US, some countries have already enacted total bans, while others are more receptive.

More on Genetically Modified Crops
French GM Maize Ban Was Done Illegally: EU Court Official
India Suspends First GM Food Crop Introduction - Environment Minister Wants More Tests

Tags: Agriculture | Genetic Engineering | GMO

Best of TreeHugger