Is biotech sorghum a noxious weed?

Word filtered from U.S. Department of Agriculture sources is that a genetically modified sorghum developed for use in cellulosic ethanol might be classified as a noxious weed, which would restrict its planting.

Ceres Inc., a biotech research and development company, developed the sorghum, which has been shown to grow a large mass of vegetation. Apparently because the company used genetic material from a noxious weed along with various sorghum plants, the USDA is looking at the new sorghum as a potential noxious weed, too.

Discussion about the sorghum is ongoing. According to Capital Press, "Ceres' biotech cultivar ‘produces greater biomass and contains more fermentable sugars than non-genetically modified sorghum checks, thereby offering a higher yield potential,' the company said in a letter requesting regulatory clarity form USDA.

The USDA is not looking at the sorghum as a plant pest, which is generally defined as viruses, bacteria or fungi that can cause disease with a plant. The noxious weed definition is generally referred to as plants that damage crops or livestock.

Ceres could use a positive resolution of the situation to possibly help its financial situation. The most recent financial report showed the company struggling financially and its stock in an extremely bearish position. 

 

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