News Stories

GM Grass Taking Over

In almost all cases?from corn to salmon?genetically modifiedversions are stronger than natural ones and tend to takeover, eradicating the original species. Now it's been shownthat the pollen from a variety of GM grass being used ongolf courses has blown over ten miles away from where it wasoriginally sown. It may be turning up in your yard soon.

In New Scientist, Fred Pearce quotes researcher David Quistas saying, "To my knowledge, this is the longest distancereported for GM pollen dispersal." Quist is the scientistwho discovered that GM corn had invaded natural varieties inMexico in 2002.

Like most GM plants, the grass has been engineered byMonsanto to be resistant to their herbicide Roundup, meaningthe entire golf course can be sprayed to kill weeds and thegrass won?t be affected. This might be something you wouldwelcome in your yard, but there are a couple of problems.One is that if GM grass takes over, there will be noalternative if it becomes vulnerable to a new disease orfungus, and the lawn could become a thing of the past.Another is that this type of grass encourages spraying withRoundup, which will cause even more pesticide pollution ingroundwater. There are also indications that exposure tolawn and garden pesticides may cause cancer in children.

Gina Ramos of the Bureau of Land Management says, "Ourconcern is that if it was to escape onto public land, wewouldn't know how to control it."

Although China is a huge country, the landscape there mayeventually look the same everywhere since China has plantedmore than a million GM trees?but has forgotten where theyput them. This means they may eventually push out the othertrees in forests there.

More trees are needed in China to halt the spread of desertsand help prevent flooding. Communist governments have beennotorious for ignoring environmental problems and China'srecent embrace of capitalism has been just as hard on theland, much of which is rapidly turning to dust.

Wang Huoran, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, says the GMpoplar trees "are so widely planted in northern China thatpollen and seed dispersal cannot be prevented." But so far,almost all GM crops have contaminated original species andthese trees may be no exception.

How can we learn to do things the right way? Some times thesecret is as simple asgettingin the gap.

Photo Credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk/

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