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Scotts to test genetically modified grass in residential lawns

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Until now, genetically modified plants have mainly been grown in large agricultural fields away from urban areas. That is about to change, with Scotts Miracle-Gro announcing at their annual shareholder meeting that this spring they'll be testing a genetically modified lawn grass at the homes of several of their employees.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the GM grass is designed to be resistant to Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides, allowing homeowners to spray the chemical over the entire lawn to kill weeds without damaging the grass. This will no doubt increase sales of the Roundup brand, which is manufactured by Monsanto and marketed by Scotts. The two companies have a long-standing partnership to develop Roundup-resistant grass and flower varieties.

The seed for this strain of Kentucky bluegrass is expected to be commercially available as early as next year according to Jim Hagedorn, Scotts CEO. The potential market for the grass is estimated to generate well over $500,000,000 in sales for the company.

Earlier trials of genetically modified bentgrass were shut down after it escaped from test fields in Oregon. This potential transfer of Roundup-resistant genes to weed grasses is one of the biggest threats to the environment, according to Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director for the Organic Consumers Association. That would in turn lead to greater use of Roundup or other more toxic herbicides.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center, "glyphosate adsorbs tightly to soil", and half of the glyphosate compound can remain in the soil up to 197 days after application, but it varies widely with soil and climate conditions.

What do you think? Would you rather have a weed-free lawn or a chemical-free one? Share this article and leave your comments below.

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