Text transcript of interview

ASLA President Len Hopper, FASLA, discussed the use of genetically modified plants with Today Programme co-host James McNaughty on November 29, 2000.

Text transcript of interview


Audio Version

They're going to grow colored grass … intro

Single comment from Scotts spokesman, Cary Beerman (?) "Our energies have been directed into several areas. One is to look at how we can produce a grass that requires less pesticide. Another is grasses that require less water. Another is grass that requires less mowing. The benefit of a slower-growing grass is pretty obvious actually in that you would mow it less. That benefit ultimately could mean less exhaust from mowers which reduces less pollution from that end. It's also a benefit to the consumer who doesn't have to get out on the lawn. Not everyone enjoys mowing their lawn once a week.

That was a statement on behalf of the company that's producing "Mow Me Less." Introduction of Len Hopper - He's worried that all this new grass hasn't been properly tested.

"We're talking about something that's going to make some people some money, that may make it more economical to take care of a golf course, to water it less. This is not something to be taken lightly. It's not the kind of thing we can't take a little more time to address properly."

It's a question of taste, isn't it?

Well, some people claim that if you want different colored grass or different colored roses, that there's an aesthetic value to that. My personal feeling is that if you want a different colored grass or patterned grass then you don't really want grass.

You're a landscape architect yourself. Can you imagine, say, purple grass in Central Park because someone thought it was fun?

I tell you: I had this vision, driving home this afternoon. I was picturing a situation where someone might some genetically altered grass seed in their lawn to get a nice plaid effect. And then they find out they're tied to that after a period of time and when they go to spray some Round-Up on it to start over again, they find out not only is it genetically modified for a plaid effect, it's also pesticide [sic. herbacide] resistant. And for a sort of Twilight Zone-eternity, they're left to look at their plaid lawn.

I think it's the kind of thing we have to be very careful with, pesticide-resistant varieties, they're being made resistant to the very pesticides that they were supposed to be susceptible to.

The trouble is that a fad, is a fad. If you put the stuff on the market people will want it, wouldn't you say?

There's an attraction to a low-maintenance landscapes. If someone who could mow a lawn once a month instead of once a week is a very seductive public advertisement to make. Unfortunately, once it may be in your yard, there's no telling where it might spread. There's no controlling where it will go and how it will mix with other native plants species.

So save our grass?



Karen T. Grajales
Manager, Public Relations 
tel: 1-202-216-2371