Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

May 18, 2014

Battle over genetically modified foods in Oregon

(Continued)

The Oregon vote is the latest battle over the future of agriculture. It is set in this picturesque 41-mile-long valley near the California border, where Syngenta has operated in near anonymity since 1993, and organic farmers have tapped a growing demand for local produce free of pesticides.

Organic farmers realized they had a problem in 2012, when Chris Hardy tried to lease some land and learned it was right next to a field leased to Syngenta. It soon became clear Syngenta was spread throughout the valley.

Farmers started gathering signatures for a ballot measure banning GMOs, and asked Oregon State University Extension to help create a mapping system so GMO and organic corps would each be free of the other's pollen.

After about six months, talks broke down, and the organic farmers went ahead with the ballot measure.

Syngenta, a Swiss company with $14.7 billion in worldwide sales, has been joined by other agricultural giants like Monsanto Co., sugar producers like Amalgamated Sugar, timber companies and farm bureaus as far away as Texas. They have pooled more than $900,000 to defeat the measures.

Their media campaign has focused on convincing voters that enforcing the ban would divert scarce revenues away from sheriff's patrols and jails.

Syngenta referred comment to the Biotechnology Industry Organization. The group's spokeswoman, Karen Batra, said the ban was "not just an assault on the industry; it is an assault on farming. It is telling one group of farmers that you can't farm the way that you want or you need or you think is best for your operation."

The ban's supporters, who have raised a third of what opponents have, say they want to protect their crops from contamination by genetically engineered pollen, particularly chard and beets, which could be fertilized by Syngenta's GMO sugar beet pollen. The pollen wouldn't affect the plants in the ground, but would make it impossible to certify the seeds as organic, reducing their value, whether for sale or planting.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Breaking News
Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller