January 8, 2017 | After more than a decade of unsuccessful efforts to eradicate the genetically modified grass it created and allowed to escape, lawn and garden giant Scotts Miracle-Gro now wants to step back and shift the burden to Oregonians.
The federal government is poised to allow that to happen by relinquishing its oversight, even as an unlikely coalition of farmers, seed dealers, environmentalists, scientists and regulators cry foul.
The altered grass has taken root in Oregon, of all places, the self-professed grass seed capital of the world with a billion-dollar-a-year industry at stake. The grass has proven hard to kill because it's been modified to be resistant to Roundup, the ubiquitous, all-purpose herbicide.
The situation is particularly tense in Malheur County, where Scotts' altered grass has taken root after somehow jumping the Snake River from test beds in Idaho.
"Imagine I had a big, sloppy, nasty Rottweiler, and you lived next door in your perfectly manicured house," said Bill Buhrig, an Oregon State University extension agent in Malheur County. "Then I dump the dog in your backyard, I take off and now it's your problem."