Saturday, February 12, 2011

Coba presses Scotts

Coba presses Scotts for bentgrass plan
By Mitch Lies
Capital Press
February 11, 2011

SALEM — Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba has asked The Scotts Co. and USDA to reveal their plans for eradicating genetically modified bentgrass that escaped several years ago from Idaho trials sites into Eastern Oregon.

Coba in letters dated Jan. 5 wrote that the ODA “is very concerned about glyphosate-tolerant creeping bentgrass in Malheur County, Ore.”

“Both the State Board of Agriculture and the ODA want to emphasize the importance of successfully eradicating the regulated (bentgrass) and are requesting a written response detailing the eradication plan,” she wrote.

An Oregon State University scientist last fall determined that genetically modified bentgrass developed by Scotts had escaped from two Canyon County, Idaho, test fields and was spreading in and along irrigation canals in Malheur County, Ore.

The Scotts Co. planted the bentgrass in 2005 and took out the fields in 2006. Weed scientist Carol Mallory-Smith identified the genetically modified plants after testing samples sent to the OSU laboratory by farmers who found they couldn’t kill it with Roundup herbicide.

The grass has been genetically modified to resist the effects of Roundup, whose active ingredient is glyphosate.

Coba said she hasn’t received a response from either party.

When asked how long she would wait, she said, “I’ll be meeting with APHIS (on an unrelated issue the week of Feb. 14-18). I will certainly ask them at that time.

“It is an APHIS permit, so it is under a federal purview,” Coba said. “I am just wondering what their plan is for dealing with this.”

Coba said she expects Scotts to pay for the eradication.

Also in the letter, Coba wrote: “After the existing sites are taken care of, we’d like to discuss a Scotts-funded survey of other high-risk areas in Oregon.”

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