Sponsored by George Fox University
Home Back Issues April 2012 Seeds of dissent

Seeds of dissent

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Article Index
Seeds of dissent
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
0412_SeedsOfDissent_03
Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seed, along with 82 other farmers and groups, is a  plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against Monsanto and its genetically modified seeds.
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina
Seed growers on both sides of the aisle agree that purity drives their markets. And in the Willamette Valley, farmers have long purified crops through a pinning system overseen by the Willamette Valley Specialty Seed Association. Through it, farmers map where crops will be planted, and work to create space between them to keep them from outcrossing.

“It’s like chess, but backwards, because you keep adding pieces to the board,” says Dan Hillburn, plant division administrator at the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Today, every type of brassica (a genus of plants in the mustard family) is grown for organic seed in the valley, along with spinaches, radishes, chard and beets. Squash, pumpkins and cucumbers are also grown. So are flowers, onions and cool-season vegetables, to name a sampling.

“The seed industry in this valley is a very important place in the world. There are not that many places left that are this big where seeds grow well, so this is sort of like the last best place to grow seeds,” said Hillburn.

As GMO varieties are introduced, there is less space for organic and more risk. Though sugarbeets were the first GMO crop to arrive, there is pressure to introduce canola, which crosses with brassicas. GMO wheat and brassicas also exist, and possible entry into the valley is a concern. Hillburn imagines such problems will grow for organic farmers as GMO crops are deregulated, sold on the open market, and planted outside the “pinning system” (pinned maps) as sugarbeets can be.

Though GMO corn, a common — and deregulated — crop, is not a problem yet, he said. “I think it is only a matter of time.”

Sarah Kleeger owns Adaptive Seeds in Sweet Home, which breeds vegetable and flower seeds for the Pacific Northwest. It illustrates how issues with GMO crops perpetuate. Her farm used to grow Roundup Ready sugarbeet seeds and is a mile downwind from another grower. The farm weeds aggressively to keep beet seed from harming business. But Kleeger says she isn’t sure how long they will persist in the ground and is concerned about evidence GMO traits may transfer in soil by virus.

“In an ideal world, we would be able to grow beta crops here, but we can’t,” she says. While the farm isn’t certified organic, and wouldn’t lose certification if contaminated, “Our customers are the ones that care, not the government,” Kleeger says.



 

More Articles

Creating a culture of compliance

Business tips
Thursday, June 19, 2014
DataBY MONICA ENAND | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Nine tips for building habits among employees to respond when needed.


Read more...

Who said we should sell in May?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, July 18, 2014
BullMarketBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Back in May, we shared a common Wall Street quote about investing, “Sell in May and go away.” Fast forward to July and the most common question we have been getting from clients is, “When is the market pullback going to occur?”


Read more...

The Scott Kveton affair

News
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
ScottKvetonBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.


Read more...

Interview: Dr. Mark Goulston

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 10, 2014
JustListenBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.


Read more...

Blips and trends in the housing market

News
Thursday, June 26, 2014
062614 thumb realestateBY ERIC FRUTS | OB BLOGGER

Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13% higher than at the beginning of the year. But, was last year a blip, or a trend?


Read more...

South Waterfront's revenge

News
Thursday, July 24, 2014
MoodyAveBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Remember the naysayers?  Those who called the South Waterfront aerial tram a boondoggle?  Those who rejoiced at the massive sell off of luxury condos at the John Ross and Atwater Place?


Read more...

Oversight? Or gaming the system?

News
Monday, July 14, 2014
AmazonBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS