Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Is GMO grass seed coming to your dog's lawn?

As a dog, I like to eat grass on occasion. Grass in our protected fenced in and organic yard is healthy for me, consumed in moderation of course. And Mum let's me eat as much as I want. A little green can do a dog good!

But when we are out and about, attending dog events, or agility trials, Mum doesn't let me eat the grass.

Do you know why?

It's because she doesn't know or believes that the grass/lawn may have been treated with chemicals that can be harmful to me, including herbicides, pesticides, in-organic fertilizers and insecticides.

So, I wait until I get home to graze a little.

What you may not know is that these chemicals can be dangerous to dogs. We've written a lot about the importance of growing an organic lawn for the health of your dog; and why commercial chemicals are harmful to dogs with studies showing

Now there is another threat to dogs on the horizon and it could end up right in your back yard.

What is it? Genetically modified grass seed.

Why is that a threat? Let's explore....

Back in July 2011, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) announced that it 'does not consider a lawn grass genetically engineered to resist a weedkiller within its regulatory domain, ratifying a pathway for certain classes of bioengineered plants to bypass federal regulation,' shared the New York Times.

But how is that possible? One of the USDA's main missions is to regulate 'U.S. agricultural products and ensure(s) the health and care of animals and plants.' This time...
...'unlike these predecessors, the herbicide-tolerant (genetically modified) Kentucky bluegrass, developed by Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., contains no microbial material. The grass's tolerance to glyphosate, a common weedkiller, stems from the genetic material of corn, rice and Arabidopsis plants, and Scotts spliced the bluegrass's DNA with a gene gun, a common lab technique that shuttles DNA on high-velocity heavy metals. 
Given these specifics, and its determination that modified bluegrass should not be controlled as a weed at the federal level, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will allow Scotts to proceed with commercializing its (genetically modified) bluegrass product, the agency said in a statement.' (Source: New York Times)
Fast forward to this year...

In January 2014, a little article appeared in The Columbus Dispatch that shared this:
'Scotts Miracle-Gro in Marysville is preparing to test a genetically modified grass seed (the very one mentioned above) in the family lawns of a small number of employees this growing season. 
The employees will test Kentucky bluegrass that has been modified to protect it from being killed by Roundup, the weedkiller produced by agricultural giant Monsanto.'
The article also went on to share a quote from Jim Hagedorn, Scotts CEO, at their annual shareholders meeting in January of this year:
'The employee testing “is a major step forward. I think we will see limited commercial activity the following year (2015), and I think, if all goes well, much more (activity) in the consumer market in 2016.”
So what does this all mean?

It means that genetically modified and untested grass seed may be coming to a store (and subsequently, lawn, park, playground, school yard, common area....) near you in 2015, and more broadly in 2016, and you won't even know it.

Scotts says that their GMO grass seed will grow more slowly (requiring less mowing), have less weeds and require less water; all good things that appear appealing on the surface. But it's what's lying under the surface that concerns us.

We've written before about the potential dangers of genetically modified organisms including findings that indicate "animals fed on three strains of genetically modified maize created by the U.S. biotech firm Monsanto suffered signs of organ damage after just three months."

The resulting use of this type of GMO grass seed will surely lead to a dramatic increase in the use of Roundup, (aka glyphosate) already the most widely used and one of the most harmful herbicide in the world, according to trusted sources; and because of wind drift this grass (produced by seed) may end up in places that didn't even plant it originally.

Add to that research that indicates...
'Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide has recently been described by researchers as, “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.” It’s been linked to a litany of health disorders and diseases including Parkinson’s, cancer and autism
Studies have revealed a connection between the use of glyphosate and birth defects in frog and chicken embryos. A more recent study shows that the toxic herbicide was found in the breast milk of American women.'
What's important to know is that if Scotts proceeds in selling the GMO grass seed they are currently testing, you won't even know it as the packaging of the grass seed will not require it to be labeled as a GMO product; and locations where it's planted will not be 'labeled' either.

And GMO grass seed and the long and short term effects of this modified seed on people, animals and the environment has not been tested.

What can you do? Voice your concerns. Write, email, and share that you are against Scotts proceeding in marketing and selling their GMO grass seed, and that you will boycott any and all of their products until the plans are tabled for this new product, including their organic lawn care products and services.

Just say no.

United States Department of Agriculture
New York Times
The Columbus Dispatch

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