(NaturalNews) Efforts by the biotechnology industry to begin planting genetically-modified (GM) canola, also known as rapeseed, in Oregon's prized Willamette Valley have been thwarted, at least temporarily, thanks to persistent opposition from farmers and farmer advocacy groups. The Oregonian reports that the Oregon Court of Appeals has temporarily halted a ruling by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) that would have allowed plantings of the controversial crop at the borders of the highly-protected Willamette Valley as soon as this fall.
Oregon's Willamette Valley is a pristine agricultural treasure in the northwestern region of the state where all sorts of organic produce is grown, much of it for the specific purpose of producing clean seeds for farmers all around the world. Because of its perfect growing climate and untainted environment, the 3.7 million acre protected zone is where the majority of the world's Brassica seed crops are grown, and is considered by many to be a "globally unique agricultural resource."
GM canola will destroy crops, land in Oregon's Willamette Valley
Allowing GM crops to be grown anywhere near this valley; however, which has been ODA's intention for quite some time, will compromise the integrity not only of the crops already being grown there, but also of the land itself, which would more than likely begin sprouting up wild GM canola plants and corresponding "superweeds," a scenario already widely occurring throughout much of North Dakota (http://www.naturalnews.com/033923_GMO_canola_contamination.html). Because of this, defenders of the Willamette Valley have been actively working to guard this unspoiled region from being intruded upon by pernicious GMOs.
"The shortsighted approach of the Department of Agriculture and steamroller process of preparing to file a temporary rule which would invite canola, including GE (genetically-engineered) canola, into the protected zone of the Willamette Valley could mean the ruination of the specialty seed industry," says the group Friends of Family Farmers (FFF), which helped file the motion to halt ODA's plans along with the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and several Willamette Valley farmers.
"This move on ODA's part opens up one of the most unique growing regions in the world to a noxious species of Brassica that readily cross-pollinates, thus contaminating the genetics of other Brassica crops," the group added, noting that GM canola is also a Brassica plant. "ODA seems to be rolling out the red carpet to a handful of interested canola producers and the Willamette Biomass Processors by pulling the rug out from under our world renowned and highly lucrative specialty seed industry."
GM canola will destroy economy of Oregon's Willamette Valley
If this temporary ban on GM canola plantings is eventually overruled, several seed buyers have already indicated that they will "pull all contracts" from farmers growing seed for them in the Willamette Valley, as the likelihood of widespread contamination by GM canola is inevitable. Why ODA would deliberately open up the impeccable Willamette Valley to GM canola and put the entire local economy at risk is unclear, other than the government bureaucracy, like many others, has likely caved to industry pressures that could not care less about the interests of local farmers.
"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 has 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," adds CFS about the situation. "This could mean disaster for Oregon's seed and organic industries." (http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org)
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