Escaped golf-course grass frees gene genie in the US
09 August 2006
© New Scientist magazine
...a genetically modified form of a grass commonly grown on golf courses is worrying the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) enough that it is running its first full environmental impact assessment of a GM plant...
The plant, creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera), carries a bacterial gene that makes it immune to the potent herbicide glyphosate, better known as Roundup...
Jay Reichman and colleagues at the US Environmental Protection Agency's labs in Corvallis, Oregon, identified nine escapees out of 20,400 plants of various grass varieties sampled within a 4.8-kilometre radius of the site where the bentgrass is being cultivated, the most distant 3.8 kilometres away. The team showed that the GM grass has spread both by pollinating non-GM plants to form hybrids, and by seed movement.
Bentgrass is a perennial, so once out there it regrows year after year, whereas most GM crops...
are annuals, unable to reproduce... Another worry is that unlike the other GM crops, bentgrass has many relatives in the US with which it can cross-breed or hybridise, potentially passing on the glyphosate-resistance gene to other species - with unpredictable results.
"It's a cautionary tale of what could happen with other GM plants that could be of greater concern," says Reichman. "I suspect that more examples of this will show up." His report will appear in the October issue of Molecular Ecology...
full article is available on the New Scientist website.
"It's a cautionary tale of what could happen with other GM plants that could be of greater concern..."|