Here come the superweeds – USDA approves invasive GMO grass

  • Published on July 13th, 2011


Uh oh. If you’ve been following the issue here at RGB, you’re aware of the fact that the US Department of Agriculture has been making life very easy for Monsanto, the big agriculture behemoth that controls a huge share of US (and global) seed production. They’ve approved a number of  Monsanto’s genetically modified (GMO) crops already this year. But the latest development blows the doors off what has happened so far.

The USDA slipped through an innocuous-looking press release about Kentucky bluegrass late Friday afternoon before the Fourth of July weekend. It’s GMO bluegrass, engineered to resist Monsanto’s nasty plant-killer, Roundup, so you can plant it on your lawn and then douse the whole joint with their chemical weedkiller.

The USDA ruled that there was no danger, so they don’t need to do any tests. Just start selling.

“It’s a blatant end-run around regulatory oversight,” said George Kimbrell, senior lawyer at the Center for Food Safety.

Bye-bye, dandelions, hello birth defects. (See: It’s official: Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide causes birth defects.)

But hey, lots of people would be willing to exchange their firstborn child for a truly pristine, weed-free lawn, right? Although the company’s main target is golf courses. (Henceforth pregnant women will be advised to abstain from cigarettes, alcohol, and golf…).

-> Next page: Opening Pandora’s box

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.


  • As a matter of fact, there is no way you can kill these weeds like forever. They’ll always find their way to grown and destroy our plants. The last time I checked, they grew faster and healthier than the vegetables on my mom’s garden after rain. We can’t use chemical but we can’t stop the rain either.

  • Jeremy,
    Did you notice that the company behind this is Scotts, not Monsanto? Monsanto is just one of may companies that makes Roundup now that it is off-patent. You let your hostility towards one company compromise the information value of your blog.

    Also, Kentucky Bluegrass is not a very good candidate for becoming a super weed. To become something like Kudzu, Scotch Broom, Leafy Spurge or Johnson Grass (real super weeds) involves a lot more than herbicide tolerance. Corn, Canola, Cotton and Soybeans are all Roundup Ready and yet have not become “superweeds.” Kentucky bluegrass is actually a pretty wimpy plant. It has limited drought and heat tolerance. It is outcompeted by many other grasses and does not displace natives outside of cultivation. It is highly susceptible to diseases. If KBG had invasive potential, that would have been obvious long ago since it is so widely grown in the Northeastern US. It does very poorly as you move South or West.

    There are really such things as super weeds that farmers have had to deal with long before there was one GMO. You devalue the term by applying it to this particular plant

    I plan to look into this case in more detail, but its pretty low on my priority list.

    • The problem isn’t just the potential for Kentucy Bluegrass to become invasive… it can cross-pollinate with a number of other grasses. The biggest risk with releasing these “designer genes” into the environment is – you just have no idea where they might end up.

  • These bastards are absolutely dead set on filling earth’s biosphere with their lab concocted genes.They are doing this for several reasons: 1) Any living thing that contains their genes they technically own and can sue over. 2) They have been desperately trying to destroy the very idea of “organic” anything. If everything is hopelessly contaminated with their genetically engineered shit they hope we will then just give up buying organic (they own everything else), and stop caring about protecting the environment (they’re Republicans don’t forget). And 3) Spite. They utterly and completely hate environmentalists and have been doing all they can to stick it to them from day one.

    These are truly evil people.I’m not necessarily talking about all the lackeys that work there but the executives and their legal teams.

    If ever there were a business that needs shutting down Monsatan is it.

  • Let’s get this straight. You hate the weed killer Round Up, but you are also concerned that we wont be able to use round up to kill super weeds. Last I checked, if you are using organic weed control, whether or not a weed is round up resistant has no bearing. Unless you’re admitting you condone the use of Round Up as a means of protecting the environment from noxious weeds.

    • I don’t condone the use of Roundup (obviously) – I was merely pointing out that this is going to screw everyone, including Monsanto’s corporate customers.
      The whole point of buying Monsanto’s evil corn and soybean seeds is the farmers get to save a lot of time on weeding (since they can just douse their fields in Roundup). Soon, they’re going to get hit with invasive grasses that won’t respond to Roundup. I’m guessing Monsanto has something else up their sleeve… we’ll just have to wait and find out what.
      But on the face of it, this is a very, very stupid decision.

  • Why are these pesticide companys willing to destroy our food and earth …just for money …you can not eat money or drink pesticides …what are you going to do for food and drink after you have poluted all that we have…can’t you see the consequences to your actions ….why

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