Ban proposed on herbicides and modified grass seed
Updated 12:24 am, Saturday, March 15, 2014
HARTFORD -- Senate President Donald E. Williams,Jr. wants to make Connecticut a leading state in stopping the proliferation of herbicides that may be responsible for bee-colony collapse and depleting the population of lobsters in Long Island Sound.
But in announcing support Friday for a state ban on genetically modified grass seed and expansion of the ban on herbicides beyond middle schools to high schools and municipal parks, Williams startled Connecticut farmers.
"We haven't seen any language for the genetically modified grass seed bill, which would also prohibit ornamental plants in state nurseries," Talmage said in a phone interview. "We are really unhappy with the process, but there is no language to review."
Williams, D-Brooklyn, was joined by legislative leaders and environmental activists who support banning GMO grass seed, which they charged would result in more chemicals such as "Roundup" on state lawns, parks and playing fields.
Dr. Jerry Silbert, a pathologist and environmental activist, said increasing levels of chemicals in lawns and parks would increase health problems.
"Not only is GMO grass a bad idea, it's a stupid idea because you have to grow one kind of grass on your lawn and then spread glyphosate (such as Roundup) all over the lawn to kill the rest of the weeds," Silbert said. "But if you really want to grow a good lawn, what you need is a diversity of grasses, and this is what landscapers always say.
"They don't just plant one grass. This is what makes a lawn healthy. And now you're saying `just plant one kind of grass and use our product to kill everything else on the lawn.' It doesn't make sense. It doesn't even give you a good lawn."
"I can tell you it will be terrible for us in the short and long terms," Williams said. "This is nothing less than an arms race aimed at the health of our people and environment."
Williams warned that GMO grass seed will be tested later this year.
and may be introduced commercially as soon as next year, despite evidence that weeds have been mutating genetically to survive herbicides. He cited increasing evidence that birth defects and cancer are increasing because of environmental chemicals.
Talmage said that the so-called "Roundup ready" plants would require the use of smaller amounts of pesticides overall. "I don't think the science supports it," he said of the legislative proposal.
Williams said he plans the GMO grass seed portion of the bill to be added as an amendment to the legislation that would expanded the ban on pesticides beyond K-eighth-grade schools and into high schools and public parks. Similar legislation is already in effect in New York.