The Scotts Company, an Ohio-based lawn-care supplier, is developing a “low mow” grass that grows half as fast as normal and a strain of herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready bent grass for golf greens; the latter could be on the market as early as 2003.
The Promise: Slow-growing grass would require less cutting, a plus for many homeowners and groundskeepers that could also reduce emissions from lawnmowers. Grass that’s resistant to weed-killers could be doused with herbicides without suffering harm.
The Peril: Creeping bent grass from golf courses already invades many lawns and gardens; making it resistant to sprays would only make it harder to control. Genetically engineered grass could also cross with existing plants, with unpredictable results.
To Learn More: The Rural Advancement Foundation International, a Canadian organization working to preserve agricultural biodiversity, critiqued genetically modified lawns in its report “Snakes in the GM Grass” (www.rafi.org/web/docus/pdfs/snakesNR.pdf). The New York Times covered the controversy in its July 9, 2000, article “Suburban Genetics: Scientists Searching for a Perfect Lawn.”