EPA approves limited use of herbicide to control GE bentgrass

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EPA approves limited use of herbicide to control GE bentgrass
By Sean Ellis
Capital Press | May 3rd, 2017

EPA has approved a special local need label for an herbicide that is effective in controlling a genetically engineered creeping bentgrass that has taken root in Malheur and Jefferson counties in Oregon after escaping field trials in 2003.

The label is approved for only those counties.

The bentgrass was genetically engineered by Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. and Monsanto Corp. to resist applications of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, which makes it hard to kill.

The special label will allow growers, irrigation districts and others to spot spray glufosinate over water during the growing season.

Glufosinate has proven the most effective herbicide for controlling the bentgrass but it previously could only be used over waterways such as canals during a short period at the beginning and end of the growing season.

“This is a huge tool in our tool box,” said Dan Andersen, co-chairman of a working group of farmers, irrigation district representatives and others that was developed in Malheur County to coordinate with Scott’s in its continuing efforts to control or eradicate the grass.

Some farmers worry the bentgrass could clog irrigation ditches and affect shipments of crops to nations that don’t accept traces of genetically modified organisms.

The bentgrass has proven difficult to control near canals and irrigation ditches because of the previous lack of an herbicide approved for use over water.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.