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In November, voters in Washington's San Juan County banned genetically modified crops. Now Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley could follow suit: a proposed ban has qualified for the 2014 Jackson County ballot.
Until this week, activists in some Oregon counties were pushing to ban genetically modified crops, sometimes referred to as GMOs. Now they are now looking at a statewide initiative.
Oregon is being flooded with millions of dollars for advertising campaigns espousing either the benefits or perils of genetically engineered foods. But two Oregon experts on either side of the debate have found some areas they can agree.
Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it was phasing out a class of bee-harming pesticides on wildlife refuges in the Pacific region. That rule now applies nationwide.
News | local | OPB News BlogJuly 10, 2014 2:26 p.m.
Headlines for Thursday, July 10: An investigation in Southern Oregon leads to 26 arrests, missing Camas teen is home safe with her family and Humpty Dumpty can't be repaired, but he will be replaced.
Groups across Oregon are working to ban genetically modified crops, many using a legal strategy that has helped communities across the country fight fracking.
Some scientists have raised environmental questions about genetically modified crops. And those researchers have reached differing conclusions about the crops’ effect on the environment.
Politics | Environment | Elections | localMay 21, 2014 3:42 a.m.
Separate measures to restrict genetically-modified crops in two Oregon counties won strong support in a first batch of election results on Tuesday.
News | local | OPB News BlogNov. 19, 2014 3:45 p.m.
Headlines for Wednesday, Nov. 19: Two Jackson County farm owners have filed suit over a ban on genetically modified crops in the county; Portland's Sellwood Bridge is closed until Friday; Clark County commissioners approved an ordinance that forbids panhandling; and more.
A GMO bill that died in the House during the regular session has been resurrected in the horse trading regarding the special session.
California's Proposition 37 to require that many foods containing genetically modified ingredients be labeled failed — despite early polling that showed massive support. A victory in California would likely have had resulted in far reaching changes to the nation's food labeling trends. The loss in California and a handful of other states means that food labeling remains the same. Supporters of the proposition cited concerns over human and environmental health as well as corporate ownership of food. Groups in opposition, ranging from Monsanto Co to many of California's newspaper editorial boards, said that the proposal was poorly written and opened the way for unnecessary lawsuits. They also predicted higher costs for consumers and cited a lack of evidence of health risks associated with genetically modified foods. In light of the recent decision by California voters, the debate about food labeling is moving on to other venues. A campaign in Washington state is in its early stages, and other states including Oregon, may see momentum for legislative action or other ballot efforts.
Back in May, a farmer found genetically modified wheat growing in his field. Japan and Korea—two of the biggest buyers of Oregon wheat—both suspended imports, which suggested the $500 million industry could be in jeopardy. The two countries have resumed trade, but the crisis reminded Oregonians of the continued importance of wheat in Oregon's economy. In the Northwest, wheat flows from farms in trucks to small elevators where it's loaded onto barges and brought to the massive elevators at the seaports. From there, it goes to the world. Plenty ends up in East Asia, often going into noodles, and some even reaches as far as Yemen, becoming the staple flat bread called khobz. The wheat begins in early winter at places like Emerson Dell Farm south of The Dalles, which David Brewer's family has farmed for five generations. The farmland rolls up and down, with little creeks in the many gullies and troughs between the hills. There are cattle grazing on grass fields and the crops include mustard and spelt. But most of the land, both now and throughout its 100-plus years, is wheat. The wheat grown here and across the Northwest is called soft white winter wheat, which means it's planted in early winter, grows a bit before frost sets in, then finishes its growth once spring begins. The Brewers' harvest has recently finished but most farmers are still out on their combines cutting the tall stalks. Little of this wheat will stay in Oregon. As much as 90 percent of it is exported, mostly to East Asia. After the harvest, the wheat goes to its next stop: grain elevators.
Meet seed savers pursuing grassroots alternatives to GMO crops and monocultures in America.
Next month, Washington voters will decide whether foods with genetically engineered ingredients have to be labeled.