You read labels to steer clear of GMOs and cook fresh meals for your family most nights. You clean your house with safe or homemade cleaning products. You’ve detoxed your family’s bath and beauty products and avoid products made with BPA or toxins – all to ensure your children are safe. But if you let your children play in your yard, you may be soon exposing them to the very same chemicals that could make them sick – even if you treat your lawn organically. A new threat will soon be on the market that can make a toxin-free lawn impossible: GMO grass.
Scotts Miracle-Gro is now testing a new strain of seeds that grow GMO grass and expects to be selling it to consumers by 2016. According to Rich Duprey at The Motley Fool, Scott’s Kentucky bluegrass grows like a weed, easily contaminating surrounding lawns. That means any neighbor, developer or garden company that uses this seed can end up destroying organic lawns as bluegrass seeds spread to surrounding properties, leaving your lawn – and your children – vulnerable to invasion by GMOs.
Even USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the problem of cross contamination with these grass seeds is one that Scotts should research, but David Bakke of Money Crashers is suspicious of his statement: “Scotts seems to be downplaying any adverse effects, and looks to be moving full-speed ahead on production. Environmental scientists have supported a ban on GMOs, although the USDA approved GMO bluegrass in 2011. The statement where Vilsack encourages Scotts to self-regulate seems rather absurd to me, and is akin to the fox guarding the hen house. Vilsack has had ties to Monsanto in the past, making that comment seem even more ludicrous. And as far as I know, avoiding cross contamination from GMOs for those with organic lawns is virtually impossible.”
Organic Lawn Care Tips
So how can you protect your home and keep your children safe? Here are some suggestions from Bakke on general organic lawn care:
- Don’t cut your grass very low. Keep it at least a three-inch height.
- Don’t bag your clippings – they’re good fertilizer.
- Don’t overwater – wait until you see a curling effect on the grass and then water. And don’t water all at once. Put down half an inch, wait about an hour, then do another half-inch.
- Have your soil tested before you buy fertilizer to make sure you’re getting the most appropriate type. Some counties provide this service for free.
In addition, make sure you and your children take your shoes off when in the house to minimize tracking toxins into the house.
Can We Prevent the Spread of GMO Grass?
While these tips can help protect your children at home, how can we parents stop the future of GMO grass seeds spreading into our neighborhoods? The only way to protect your family’s lawn is by making sure that legislators and communities across the country fight to keep GMO grass seeds off the market. This April in Connecticut, a bill to ban GMO grass seeds was defeated in the Connecticut House, even though it was strongly supported in the state Senate. With a federal bill on the table right now to prevent states from banning GMOs, this could spell trouble for the future of organic lawns and could force GMO lawns on everyone.
What can you do? You can start by educating your neighbors on the dangers of GMO and alerting them about GMO seeds. If you have a local Non-GMO statewide campaign, such as GMO Free Connecticut, sign up and see what actions are being taken or better yet, get involved. Write your congressman about GMOs and get out and vote on issues concerning these toxins. And of course, follow Mamavation for the latest updates on GMO actions all over the country.
Parents need to be proactive about the dangers that unregulated GMO grass can cause and the spread of this bluegrass. The future of your child’s outdoor safety is at risk.
Stop GMO Grass With GMO-Free Seeds
Meanwhile, there is some great news. According to GMO Free USA, The High Mowing Organic Seed Company the first seed company to become Non-GMO Project verified! VPR reports that 90% of their 650 vegetable seeds are already verified with the rest due to be verified by the end of summer. It’s great to see a seed company leading the way so that consumers like you and me can grow nontoxic gardens. Do your part to stop the spread of GMO grass today!