Seeds of dissent

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
0412_SeedsOfDissent_04
Organic seed plants at Gathering Together Farm are increasingly threatened by potential out-crossing with genetically modified varieties, particularly beets grown nearby.
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina
Supporters of GMO products like Steve Strauss, a professor in Oregon State University’s Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, say the organic marketplace simply needs to relax standards on purity.

“The contamination thing is really disingenuous at best,” says Strauss. “They have an economic grievance, but it’s really something they have imposed on themselves.”

Strauss says weeds, pesticide drift and out-crossing have always been facts of farming life. But because the organic community markets its lack of GMO traits, it’s tied to a zero-contamination standard, even while organic certification doesn’t require it. “All they need to do is say, hey, we need a reasonable threshold … and coexistence standards that agriculture has had for centuries.”

Strauss and others say the fuss about GMO meanwhile buries truths about its benefits to humans and the environment. The Roundup Ready trait, for example, greatly reduces the use of herbicide, cutting tractor time and reducing greenhouse gases. Because GMO crops are designed to increase crop yields, they also lower the price of food.

“Organic growers in the Willamette Valley may have some isolation problems. But they are going to be, in my opinion, outvoted by the fact that we want cheap food in this country,” says Gary Whiteaker of Madras, a retired consultant from global crop genetics broker Verdant Partners, based in Illinois. “GMO is a modern tool,” he says. “It’s no different than the tools in plant pathology and entomology that we’ve used for hundreds of years” to battle pests and disease, more critical as the world food supply shrinks.



 

More Articles

Sun set

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

The right sunglasses can protect your eyes and look cool at the same time. This being the 21st century, select shades are socially conscious, too. Portland brand Shwood uses wood and other natural materials and manufactures locally. Founded by Ann Sacks, the brand Fetch dedicates a portion of its profits to animal welfare. But whether you choose classic tortiseshell or aviator chic, please, shed the sunglasses when you walk in the door — and, of course, at night. 


Read more...

The Green Paradox

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY EMILY LIEDEL

Inside the topsy-turvy world of corporate sustainability rankings.


Read more...

No Boundaries

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Floor plans embrace the great wide open.


Read more...

Cherry Raincoat

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Spring rains are the bane of an Oregon cherry farmer’s existence. Even a few sprinkles can crack the fruit so badly it’s not worth picking. Science to the rescue: Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a spray-on film that cuts rain-related cracking in half, potentially saving a season’s crop. The coating, patented as SureSeal, is made from natural chemicals similar to those found in the skins of cherries: cellulose, palm oil-based wax and calcium.


Read more...

Hall of Flame

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

A Power Lunch at Oswego Grill.


Read more...

Frothy Battle

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

Latest development in Nestlé plant saga sparks debate about the value of water.


Read more...

The 5 highest revenue-generating parks in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, June 11, 2015
parksthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.


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