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2-Plants: Monsanto produces RR grass for golf courses

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TITLE:  Scotts Company, Monsanto, to create an experimental production site
        for Roundup Ready Creeping Bent Grass
SOURCE: Associated Press/Portland Oregonian, edited and sent by Agnet, 
DATE:   November 20, 2001

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MADRAS - Two Jefferson County farmers have, according to these stories, 
teamed up with agricultural chemical companies, Scotts Company and the 
Monsanto Company, to create an experimental production site for genetically 
engineered Roundup Ready creeping bent grass. The stories say that at a 
public hearing Monday about the proposed 11,000-acre site, to be located 
just northwest of Madras on the Agency Plains, 11 local farmers were cited 
as saying the plan represented a potential economic boon for Madras. With 
the volume of specialty crops - such as peppermint, Chinese cabbage and 
sugarbeets - that once served as the county's agricultural lifeblood now 
being grown in areas where costs are lower, the prospect of having a crop 
that will be in demand as long as there are golf courses has area farmers 
optimistic for the first time in years.

Gary Harris, who has farmed his 578 acres near Madras since 1968 and is the 
only member of Oregon's Land Conservation and Development Commission east 
of the Cascade, was quoted as saying, "Bentgrass is needed to keep this 
agricultural community viable. The crop will provide a fresh economic 

The stories say that more than 50 people attended the hearing, moderated by 
the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Scotts and Monsanto scientists were 
cited as saying that the crop would be sold to golf courses throughout the 
country. The growing area would be controlled to minimize the possibility 
that Roundup Ready strains of the crop would grow outside the production 
site. Ron Olson and Harold Siegenhagen, owners of the Madras-based New Era 
Seed company that would operate the site, were cited as saying that the 
control area would be maintained using practices such as operating an on-
site seed-cleaning facility and shipping seeds directly to golf courses in 
leak proof sealed containers.

Olson, a stockholder in Monsanto and The Scotts Company, said commercial 
production of the genetically engineered crop is scheduled to begin in the 
fall of 2002. He anticipates the farm will produce between 400 and 500 
pounds of creeping Bentgrass seed a year for the 3 million-pound industry.

Dr. Michael Kenna, director of turf grass and environmental research for 
the U.S.Golf Association (USGA), was quoted as saying that the nation's 
golf courses "need this technology" and that Roundup Ready creeping 
bentgrass will enable golf course managers to control weeds more easily and 
courses will look better. Kenna was further cited as saying the USGA will 
also be able to reduce the impact of golf courses on the environment, 
adding, "It will enable golf course superintendents to reduce water and 
pesticide usage."

Bill Rose, a longtime Jefferson County farmer, was cited as saying he is 
uncomfortable with the plans to prevent accidental spread of the grass and 
that containment would be nearly impossible, adding, "Anything that is so 
good can also be bad. If we move too fast, we could get the public against 
us and get (genetically engineered crops) banned. " Albert Kausch, a 
genetic engineering researcher with the HibriGene Co., was quoted as 
saying, "Outcrossing is inevitable. My main concern is that we're moving 
ahead too fast on this."


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