Wait, Did the USDA Just Deregulate All New Genetically Modified Crops?

MOTHER JONES
By  Tom Philpott
Fri Jul. 8, 2011 12:23 PM PDT

It’s a hoary bureaucratic trick, making a controversial announcement on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend, when most people are daydreaming about what beer to buy on the way home from work, or are checking movie times online. But that’s precisely what the US Department of Agriculture pulled last Friday.

In an innocuous-sounding press release titled “USDA Responds to Regulation Requests Regarding Kentucky Bluegrass,” agency officials announced their decision not to regulate a “Roundup Ready” strain of Kentucky bluegrass—that is, a strain genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate, Monsanto’s widely used herbicide, which we know as Roundup. The maker of the novel grass seed, Scotts Miracle Gro, is now free to sell it far and wide. So you’ll no doubt be seeing Roundup Ready bluegrass blanketing lawns and golf courses near you—and watching anal neighbors and groundskeepers literally dousing the grass in weed killer without fear of harming a single precious blade.

Which is worrisome enough. But even more worrisome is the way this particular product was approved. According to Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food and Environment Program, the documents released by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) along with the announcement portend a major change in how the feds will deal with genetically modified crops.

Notably, given the already-lax regulatory regime governing GMOs (genetically modified organisms, click here for a primer), APHIS seems to be ramping down oversight to the point where it is essentially meaningless. The new regime corresponding with the bluegrass announcement would “drastically weaken USDA’s regulation,” Gurian-Sherman told me. “This is perhaps the most serious change in US regs for [genetically modified] crops for many years.”

 

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One comment on “Wait, Did the USDA Just Deregulate All New Genetically Modified Crops?

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    Giovani Dos Santos hopes his nightmare spell at Tottenham will come to an end soon.Dos Santos has made just two Barclays Premier League starts since he signed from Barcelona four years ago and has been farmed out on loan to Racing Santander, Galatasaray and Ipswich. The 23-year-old was allowed to leave Mexico’s pre-Olympic training camp last weekend in the hope of securing a deal with a Spanish club, but he still remains a Tottenham player.The Mexican, who has been linked with Sevilla, Real Betis and Atletico Madrid, hopes that will change soon, however. And he told ESPN Radio: "I want to return to Spain. There is a new coach at Tottenham, a new season is starting and it is clear to me that I want to return to Spanish football."Copyright (c) PA Sport 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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