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Editorial: Connecticut General Assembly should ban GMO grass seed

By Editorial Board
On April 15, 2014

On April 10, 2014 a legislative ban on genetically modified grass seed was defeated in the Connecticut General Assembly by the House in a 103-37 vote, which is unusual given the bill had been resoundingly passed by the State Senate on Wednesday evening. House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) said that the bill, which was primarily sponsored by fellow Democrat and President Pro Temp of the Senate Donald E. Williams Jr., would have merely been a distraction if left on the schedule for further deliberation so the vote was expedited-even though Sharkey admitted to never having been informed of the bill's purpose or contents. Supporters of the bill point out that the GMO grass seed ban was primarily meant to preclude the use of the extremely hazardous chemicals in lawn treatment, namely Monsanto's popular Round-Up herbicide, which has a record of environmentally malignant affects.
This particular GMO grass seed is being developed by Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, based in Lebanon, Conn. and is being specifically designed with an immunity to glyphosate. Glyphosate was discovered to be a herbicide by Monsanto chemist John E. Franz in 1970, and it has since become the main ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide agent marketed under the alias "Round-Up." A contentious debate surrounds the nature of Round-Up and the ways in which it affects animal life, especially the alleged ills it has on human health. Proponents of the GMO grass seed ban, such as Rep. Mary M. Mushinsky (D-Wallingford), contend that glyphosate causes cancer and birth defects in children, but the research consulting firm Exponent dismisses some of these accusations. Reps. Michelle Cook (D-Torrington) and Dan Carter (R-Bethel) are more concerned that the ban will drive away biotechnology business in return for a ban on GMO grass seed, which is not inherently harmful.
Rep. Mushinsky continued on to point out that the true concern with the use of GMO grass seed, and the resultant employment of glyphosate-based herbicides, is the advent of glyphosate-resistant weeds, of which 14 have already been identified by scientists. Weeds with glyphosate resistance require herbicides with an increased toxicity to counter their mutations, and this inevitably devolves into a self-perpetuating cycle whereby ever-more toxic herbicides are administered to stave off growing populations of perpetually mutating weed species. As Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) notes, the presence of this cycle in other states has caused the biotechnology industry to begin developing derivatives of Agent Orange-the infamous Vietnam War defoliant-in an effort to combat glyphosate-resistant weeds. The widespread use of Agent Orange, also a product of Monsanto, is certainly not something we want to experience in Connecticut, thus necessitating the passage of a ban on GMO grass seed.

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