A news release yesterday from the Friends of Family Farmers [FoFF] and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) stated that, “Today, in an effort to stop the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) from an unprecedented expansion of industrial, genetically engineered canola production into the boundaries in the Willamette Valley, [FoFF], [CFS] and three Willamette Valley specialty seed producers jointly filed suit challenging ODA’s temporary rule that would irreparably harm the state’s organic agriculture production and specialty and clover seed industries.
“‘We had no other option than to go to the courts,’ said Leah Rodgers, Field Director for FoFF. ‘We have tried to work with the Kitzhaber administration to slow down this process and engage all stakeholders in public notice and comment, but ODA steamrolled producers and have rushed to open 1.7 million acres in the Willamette Valley to canola, a low-value crop with a huge, adverse impact on several high-value industries. This could mean disaster for Oregon’s seed and organic industries.’”
The release pointed out that, “The strong potential for genetically engineered (GE) cross-contamination of crops will critically harm the overall marketability and reputation of Oregon’s specialty seed industry, which has an international reputation for producing high quality, non-contaminated seeds.”
While concerns exist about cross pollination, as the devastating impacts of the 2012 drought continue to unfold, some corn farmers have noted that current seed technologies have served to mitigate the adverse impacts of high temperatures and lack of moisture on crop yields.
In the CNBC video below, a corn producer states that yields would be much worse on his Iowa farm this year if it were not for genetic advancements in seed technologies.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported yesterday that, “The nation’s largest agribusiness and biotech companies are pouring millions of dollars into California to stop the first-ever initiative to require special labels on foods made with genetically modified ingredients, a sign of their determination to keep the measure from sparking a nationwide movement.
“So far, farming giants such as Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer and Cargill have contributed nearly $25 million to defeat the proposal, with much of that cash coming in the past few days. It’s nearly 10 times the amount raised by backers of the ballot measure who say California’s health-conscious shoppers want more information about the food they eat.”
The AP article added that, “The food initiative, known as Proposition 37, is one of 11 statewide measures to go before California voters in November. It would require most processed foods to bear a label by 2014 letting shoppers know if the items contain ingredients derived from plants with DNA altered with genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria.
“If the proposal passes, California would be the first state to require labeling of such a wide range of foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.”
Recall that during the Senate Farm Bill debate back in June, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) offered an amendment regarding GMO products and food labels.
A press release at the time stated that, “The Senate today rejected an amendment by [Sen. Sanders] to let states require clear labels on any food or beverage containing genetically engineered ingredients. The vote was 26 to 73.
“‘This is the very first time a bill on labeling genetically engineered food has been brought before the Senate. It was opposed by virtually every major food corporation in the country. While we wish we could have gotten more votes, this is a good step forward and something we are going to continue to work on. The people of Vermont and the people of America have a right to know what’s in the food that they eat.’”