Genetically engineered creeping bentgrass

Mode of escape: 
Hybridisation with wild growing bentgrass
Hybridisation with wild relatives

In 2002, Scotts Company started field trials with genetically engineered creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) in Oregon. In 2004, it was found that pollen from transgenic bentgrass (which had been made tolerant to herbicides containing glyphosate as the active ingredient) had introgressed into wild growing bentgrass populations. Outcrossing into wild bentgrass populations and the sexually compatible species Agrostis gigantea took place at distances of up to 14 kilometres; cross-pollination by using trap plants was even found at a distance of 21 kilometres. In 2003, a storm caused the wide scale dispersal of transgenic bentgrass pollen. Attempts by Scotts to remove all genetically engineered plants failed. In 2007, the USDA fined Scotts 500.000 US $ for failing to comply with regulations.
Tests conducted along irrigation canals in 2006 showed that more than half of the investigated plants contained the glyphosate tolerance gene. Genetically engineered bentgrass also escaped from a second field trial in Idaho. According to research, even interspecific hybridisation with related species takes place. Hybrids were identified as rabbitfoot grass that had introgressed into feral transgenic bentgrass. Bentgrass is a perennial plant with many compatible related species. Several relatives have invasive traits and are considered to be weeds. Bentgrass is wind-pollinated and produces large amounts of pollen. An additional problem in the US bentgrass case is the fact that Oregon is the main production area for bentgrass seeds. Bentgrass seed from Oregon is also exported to the EU and other regions.


Supporting organizations