City Club of Eugene: GMO's - State or Local Control?

Nov 11, 2013

Recorded on Friday, November 8, 2013

Airing on Monday, November 11, 2013

Farmers and consumers don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Two viewpoints on the business and politics of 21st-century Lane County agriculture are on tap for the City Club of Eugene on November 8.

GMO canola oil, which is in demand for both food and biofuel, has been modified to resist certain herbicides. That increases crop yields, but requires the use of more herbicides than the traditional variety. That can cause problems for organic and seed farmers, who protested an Oregon Department of Agriculture (DOA) proposal to allow growing genetically modified (GMO) canola in the Willamette Valley.

Those farmer-protesters cited the dangers of crop contamination and cross-pollination with weeds: factors that could create herbicide-resistant weeds and would significantly decrease the value of Willamette Valley vegetable seeds. Their arguments at the state legislature successfully blocked that DOA proposal -- at least until 2019.

Local organizations wish to prevent further attempts to grow GMO crops by regulating GMOs at the local level. But part of the grand bargain in a special session of the Oregon Legislature creates a roadblock. The law passed and signed by the governor largely prohibits local regulation of GMO crops.

Would local regulations create an unmanageable patchwork of rules for farmers, or could such regulations protect people from unwanted GMO crops? Can the conflicting issues be resolved before 2019?

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