The Bog:
sphagnum moss, dark water, and politics
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 1:
Attack of the Frankengrass! (GM Grass Gone Wild)

From NPR, Super Grass Spreads Beyond Its Oregon Test Plot
A new genetically modified strain of grass has proved to be resistant to a reliable weed killer. Now the plant has spread beyond its test plot in central Oregon, and scientists and environmentalists are concerned about the possibility of "superweeds."
The audio's refusing to work for me right now . . . ah, here we go, a NY Times article from this summer. Basically? Scotts Miracle-Gro and Monsanto decided to create and test a Roundup Ready version of the creeping bentgrass - that is, to genetically engineer creeping bentgrass to be resistant to Monsanto's popular Roundup herbicide, as has been already done with various crops you are eating and wearing. The idea is that it could be planted on golf courses - of course - so that Roundup could be applied to wipe out competing plants: synergy gone biological. Which, to be fair, if we have to have golf course monocultures, would be better than some of the alternatives.

But then there was a little problem (realistically, a few little problems) at the central Oregon test site:
APHIS alleged that, on two occasions, Scotts failed to notify APHIS about the accidental release of Roundup Ready Creeping Bentgrass (RRCB), which resulted from unanticipated wind events at a field test site in Jefferson County, OR and carried dried RRCB seed heads beyond the field test location. Scotts provided a mitigation plan and committed to additional control measures outlined in a Compliance Agreement with BRS. In addition to paying a civil penalty, Scotts was required to implement training and procedures to prevent future violations. BRS is currently conducting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate whether a petition by Scotts and Monsanto Company to deregulate RRCB poses any plant pest risks. This is the first time BRS has conducted an EIS in response to a petition for deregulation.
Unanticipated wind events. Ya gotta love it. Anyway, while an EPA study two years ago had found bentgrass pollen miles away from the site, the more recent study revealed a small number of genetically engineered plants growing in the wild - some from seed, some hybridized - up to over two miles away from test site zone. It's the first time (that we know of) this sort of thing has happened in the US.

Now, wild Roundup Ready creeping bentgrass is far from the worst thing that could happen - there's some concern about pesticide-resistant superweeds creeping over public lands, and it could conceivably damage the grass seed industry - centered in the nearby Willamette Valley - if other countries ban their products due to proven or suspected contamination. It's just that this is so ridiculously predictable, especially given the nature of the grass - able to spread by itself (unlike, say, corn), with light windblown pollen, and many wild relatives growing nearby . . . and remember, the idea's to have it on golf courses all over the country. Note also that marks another first: " the Agriculture Department is doing a full environmental impact assessment before making a decision. It will be its first involving a genetically engineered crop." I certainly don't think genetically engineered crops are inherently evil, but corporate-influenced lack of oversight, that's another matter.

posted by Dan S. on 7:03 AM | | link

what is a bog?
Definitions, definitions
1. ". . . one of North America's most distinctive kinds of wetlands . . . characterized by spongy peat deposits, acidic waters, and a floor covered by a thick carpet of spagnum moss." *
2. A relentless, hard-driving mix of political commentary, recipes, idle ramblings, and so on.

More about bogs here.

why "the bog"?
Something about the blog format made me think of spagnum moss slowly growing, forming layer after layer of peat deposits many feet thick, sometimes preserving (in Europe) ancient bodies . . . Also, it rhymes.

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Songs currently stuck in my head
despite all my best efforts

"My Happy Ending," by {yech} Avril Lavigne:
"Let's talk this over,
It's not like we're dead . . "

and "Laiska" by Varttina:
Laiska luotu laulmann
oikosormi soittamaan
yskin oita viettelen
unetonna laulelen

Toppling off the bedside book-pile:
Classroom Management for Middle-Grades Teachers , C.M. Charles & Marilyn G. Charles
Teaching U.S. History as Mystery, David Gerwin & Jack Zevin
Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, William W. Fitzhugh & Aron Crowell
Arctic Crossing: A Journey Through the Northwest Passage and Inuit Culture, Jonathan Waterman
Northern Tales: Stories from the Native People of the Arctic and Subarctic Regions, Howard Norman (ed.)
Life in the Cold, Peter J. Marchand
Wandering Through Winter, Edwin Way Teale
The Winter Vegetarian, Darra Goldstein

Teas of the week:
Tea of Good Tidings: Winter Fruit Blend,
The Republic of Tea
Russian Caravan,
Jacksons of Piccailly

on the web:
Land of links:
The American Prospect
Common Dreams
FAIR: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
The Nation
The Progressive
Washington Monthly

Organic Consumers Association
Eat Wild (pasture-based farming)
NOFA: Northeast Organic Farming Association
Consumer Supported Agriculture
Edible Wild Kitchen


Blogging away:
Vassar blogs
And yes, we've been co-ed since '69...
E's Den
Useless! Worthless! Insipid!

Other blogs
Alas, A Blog
Atrios' Eschaton
Body and Soul
Daily Kos
Digby's Hullabaloo
Dispatches From the Culture Wars
Echidne of the Snakes
Feminist Blogs
Interesting Times
Late Night Thoughts asleep?
Long story; short pier
Making Light
Mouse Words
One Good Thing
The Panda's Thumb
Respectful of Otters
The Sideshow
Sisyphus Shrugged
Matthew Yglesias

old peat (archives):
December 22, 2002
December 29, 2002
January 12, 2003
January 19, 2003
February 2, 2003
February 16, 2003
February 23, 2003
March 2, 2003
March 9, 2003
March 16, 2003
March 23, 2003
March 30, 2003
April 6, 2003
June 8, 2003
October 5, 2003
January 16, 2005
October 22, 2006
November 5, 2006
November 12, 2006
November 19, 2006
November 26, 2006
September 16, 2012
December 23, 2012

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