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GMO Grass Poses Threat To Livestock, Some Environmental Researchers Claim

Scotts Roundup Ready Kentucky Bluegrass GMO grass was designed to withstand “massive amounts” of Roundup Ready herbicide manufactured by biotech giant Monsanto. Since Monsanto’s Roundup Ready kills every growing thing that has not been genetically engineered to withstand the chemicals, natural lawns and alfalfa growing to feed livestock, could be in jeopardy, according to Natural Society. Several studies have reportedly indicated that GMO grain may have a “hazardous impact on livestock health, especially on the well-being of beef cattle.

Since grass grows quickly and blows easily when cut, fears that genetically modified grass could spread and contaminate natural grass on private lawns, gardens, pastures, and parks where children play have been vehemently voiced. The GMO grass project began in 2011 when both Monsanto and Scotts were able to convince the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to essentially give biotech companies a free pass to market the Roundup Ready Kentucky Bluegrass genetically modified grass seed sans testing.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide. Some environmental researchers have described the product as the “most biologically disruptive chemical” currently being imposed upon the land and the environment. Although there is no government-accepted study on the matter, some scientific researchers have also published reports indicating that glyphosate may be linked to a host of health disorders, including autism, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. Studies have shown a connection between the use of glyphosate and birth defects in chicken embryos and frogs.

The USDA determined that GMO grass did not pose any danger, so testing of the mass-market product were simply not necessary. “It’s a blatant end-run around regulatory oversight,” Center for Food Safety attorney George Kimbrell said. Ecowatch reports that the chemical herbicide is not regulated by any type of governmental entity and is not required to carry a GMO label.

The USDA governs GMO crops regulation under rules pertaining to plant pesticides. The authority was granted to the USDA during the 1950s in order to constrain the influx of organisms which could pose harm to crops and plants. Since GMO crops utilize DNA material stemming from natural plant pathogens, such products have officially been deemed “plant pests.”

Scotts appears to have been able to get around the USDA restrictions because the company opted not to use “plant pests” during the development of the Roundup Ready Kentucky Bluegrass. A glyphosate-resistant gene from other plants which are not considered pests by USDA guidelines were used instead.

Northeast Organic Farming Association representative had this to say about GMO grass, “As these seeds spread and more and more grass takes up that genetic trait, we’ll find organic farmers who want to grass feed their beef, can’t do it because their grass is genetically modified, which is prohibited in organic standards. GMOs are pollution with a life of its own.”

The USDA could have utilized the noxious weed provision under the Plant Protection Act of 2000 to test or stop the production of GMO grass, but chose not to, according to Ecowatch. The light pollen in Kentucky Bluegrass is reportedly known to travels for several miles on the wind. In theory, GMO grass could therefore transfer its GMO genes to naturally growing bluegrass and contaminate yards, fields, pastures, farms, and gardens, and the owners will never know they are potentially consuming GMO material when harvesting crops or when baling hay to feed livestock that will one day wind up on the dinner table.

[Image via: Shutterstock.com]

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