The Franken-Grass runs WILD and FREE! Comments Needed!

A recent study released by the EPA found GE bentgrass up to 14 miles from the test site, far outside of the buffer zones set by the Department of Agriculture. Contamination followed wind patterns and included both plants set specifically to be tests for cross-pollination and wild species that just happened to be in the neighborhood. Overall, the study found a significant number of new Round-Up Ready plants outside of the buffer zone. It also called for future studies to see if the ambitious, law-breaking grass will persist in the wild.

Why should Oregonians care about a little grass?

First, our state grows and sells large amounts of grass seed. According to a recent Oregonian article, it is the third largest agricultural industry in the state behind nurseries and livestock. Cross-pollination with genetically engineered grasses is a no-no if farmers want to sell their seed to Europe or Asia, which incidentally represent about 15% of our current grass seed market. Once the cross-pollination occurs, it will be almost impossible to root it out.

Members of the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land management have both expressed concern about "new and improved" bentgrass. It seems that if this grass decides to ignore the buffer zones some more and blows into the national forest system, it could invade with impunity, damaging all 175 national forests and
grasslands.

Finally, this crop is a perennial, so it does not need to be planted year after year. Once it is in the ecosystem, it will just keep on showing up. Couple that with the fact that 14 Oregon species are known to cross pollinate with the bentgrass and 24 species in North America and you potentially have franken-grass in your front lawn, in the park, and on your kid's baseball field. Care to inhale some Round-Up Ready pollen anyone?

The time to speak up is now!

The Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agency has decided that this Franken-grass is wild enough to require an environmental impact statement, the first of its kind for any genetic creation to date! The initial phase of this process is currently underway. From now until October the 25th, people can comment on GE bentgrass and have their concerns considered during the evaluation process.

These comments will make a difference and every comment counts. During the last bentgrass comment period, about 400 comments came into the aphis. 300 supported the bentgrass and 100 opposed it. This is our opportunity to shift that balance. Will you help?

There are three ways to comment:

Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send four copies of your comment (an original and three copies) to Docket No. 03-101-2, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to Docket No. 03-101-2.

E-mail: Address your comment to regulations@aphis.usda.gov. Your comment must be contained in the body of your message; do not send attached files. Please include your name and address in your message and ``Docket No. 03-101-2'' on the subject line.

Agency Web site: Go to http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/cominst.html for a form you can use to submit an e-mail comment through the APHIS Web site.

Read the talking points and then freely speak your mind, no containment zones.

There are more articles about creeping bent grass here.

If you'd like to help NW RAGE over the next few weeks with our No GE bentgrass comment drive, email info@nwrage.org or call 503-239-6841

Thanks for getting involved! Special thanks to the Center for Food Safety for their Call to Action letter.