Target: Kevin Shea, Administrator of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (USDA)
Goal: Denounce the attempts of Monsanto and Scotts to deregulate an invasive strain of genetically engineered bentgrass.
A genetically engineered strain of bentgrass, designed for use on golf courses, has spread and contaminated areas in Oregon, and the companies who engineered the strain are pushing for the deregulation of the grass seed in order to shirk their responsibility for the contamination and its cleanup.
Years ago, Monsanto and Scotts got the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow them to test an experimental strain of bentgrass on a 400-acre plot outside of Madras, Oregon. The grass and the seeds were developed specifically for golf courses to be resistant to the popular herbicide, Roundup. However, the seeds and pollen quickly spread outside of the test area, including in the nearby national grassland preserve, and to this day is present across Central and Southern Oregon.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expressed their concerns regarding the effect the grass could have on threatened and endangered species in Oregon. Monsanto and Scotts continue to combat the grass wherever it appears, using even more powerful and toxic herbicides due to the resistance of the plant.
Their recent petition to deregulate the seeds would mean that their responsibility for halting the spread and cleaning up after their mistake would pass to the state of Oregon, along with the associated costs. They also claim that the move is not related to any intentions to sell the genetically engineered seeds. However, if deregulation goes ahead, the USDA no longer has authority to monitor if the companies will sell this seed or not. With other genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant seeds already developed and approved, there could be pressure to sell the bentgrass strains in order to succeed in the market.
Denounce this attempt by these companies to pass the buck to the state of Oregon and its taxpayers for this situation.
Dear Administrator Shea,
The recent petition to deregulate a particularly invasive strain of bentgrass by Monsanto and Scotts is a shameful move on their part. Thirteen years after the original testing of this genetically engineered seed, they are still cleaning up the fallout. The damage that they caused and the potential for worse is on their heads, and it should remain so.
The reasoning behind this move seems to be a cost-oriented maneuver–an attempt to pass the costs of cleanup onto the people and the state of Oregon, not to mention the potential for the sale of the offending seed once the authority of the USDA is taken away.
This situation, one that threatens the species and natural grasslands of the area, is of Monsanto’s and Scotts’ making. Don’t let them shift responsibility onto the state for damage that they caused.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Rasbak