Environment | Science | Local

Creeping Bentgrass Sneaks Across The Snake

OPB | Nov. 19, 2010 12:51 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:06 a.m. | Bend, OR

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The Scotts Company, the makers of Miracle Grow, believes a type of genetically modified grass found growing in irrigation ditches in Malheur County, somehow got out from one of two former test facilities across the river in Idaho.

Creeping Bentgrass is used commercially in golf course putting greens.

The Scotts Company had asked the Agriculture Department to allow it to sell a genetically modified bentgrass.

Two facilities in Idaho were set up to test a strain engineered to be resistant to the weed killer, Round-up.

Those sites were shut down in 2006. But last month Carol Mallory-Smith, a professor of weed science at Oregon State University identified a significant number of the modified plants growing in the wild.

Carol Mallory-Smith: “We cannot contain genes.  You can’t just say ‘ok, we’re going to this year and then we’re going to change our minds next year and we’re going to be able to pull them back,’ because that’s not how biology works.”

What’s not clear is how plants wound up on the other side of the Snake River. The USDA is investigating the matter.

A spokesman for the company says they’re working now to eradicate the rogue plants.

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