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Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber convened a panel of regional experts Thursday on issues of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber convened a panel of regional experts Thursday on issues of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. At Oregon State University's Food Innovations Center in downtown Portland, Kitzhaber spoke on the importance of debating the role of GMOs in the state.
After years in development, genetically-modified apples that don't brown when exposed to air could soon be at a grocery store near you.
local | News | 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.
local | News | OPB News BlogMay 12, 2014 6:49 p.m.
In the midst of the heated genetically modified organisms debate, some restaurants in Southern Oregon have found an opportunity.
In response to consumer requests, General Mills is changing the source of its original Cheerios ingredients so that the cereal will be free of genetically modified organisms.
Final but unofficial election results show Vancouver mayor Tim Leavitt has been reelected and Washington voters have rejected the GMO label initiative.
Some scientists have raised environmental questions about genetically modified crops. And those researchers have reached differing conclusions about the crops’ effect on the environment.
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.
News broke on Wednesday that genetically modified (GMO) wheat had been discovered in an Oregon field. Everyone is wondering how the seeds got there, since GMO wheat has not been approved for Oregon's commercial farmers. Regardless of the source, the consequences could be dire for Oregon's wheat farmers and exporters. The Oregon Department of Agriculture director, Katy Coba, told OPB earlier this week she's concerned about the economic impact this could have on the state. South Korea and Japan have already suspended some imports of wheat from the Pacific Northwest.
It's Friday, so it's time for the news roundtable, our chance to review the big news of the week with a panel of journalists, editors and news watchers. This week we are discussing:
- The discovery of GMO wheat in Oregon
- The arrest of an Albany high school student accused of planning to attack his school
- Speculation about bureau assignments in Portland city government
- Michele Bachmann's announcement that she will not seek re-election
- President Obama's decision to nominate Republican James Comey to be the next FBI director
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.
Earlier this month, a federal judge in San Fransisco ruled that farmers can grow genetically modified sugar beets, at least for the near future. Environmentalists have tried to stop the growth of these beets, saying that their seeds would contaminate un-modified sugar beets and related species, like swiss chard. But 95 percent of all sugar beets grown here are modified — accounting for half of the nation's sugar supply — and an immediate ban would cause 1.5 billion dollars in losses. These GMO (genetically modified organism) beets were created to resist a particular herbicide, and were patented by Monsanto. The Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and several other groups and organic farmers brought the suit against GMO sugar beets. They sued the USDA over its approval of the new plant, and Monsanto over its development and distribution. And the legal challenges aren't over yet; it's possible that a ban on GMO sugar beets might come down the road.
Meet seed savers pursuing grassroots alternatives to GMO crops and monocultures in America.