Seeds of dissent

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Indeed, philanthropists have gotten behind the GMO cause to feed world hunger. GMO crops now include everything from drought-tolerant wheat and corn and bollworm resistant cotton to Roundup Ready soybeans, vitamin-enriched rice and pest-resistant potatoes and canola. According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, 16.7 million farmers in 29 countries had adopted such technologies as of February 2012.

But the patent litigation against Monsanto, and the push toward an organically pure Willamette Valley, are still of concern.

Kurt Wickstrom, president of Betaseed in Tangent, a seed production facility with 100 employees, says the Willamette Valley produces seed sown on 1.2 million acres in North America, tying the area directly to more than 50% of the domestic sugar supply for North America, which is 90% Roundup Ready. The remaining sugar supply comes from cane.

“Most of the sugar factories in North America are owned by sugarbeet farmers,” he said. And if Roundup Ready sugarbeet seeds become unavailable, risk to farming families who have invested in the industry is high. Wickstrom says Roundup Ready seeds are necessary to manage the crop efficiently and make sure the sugar supply is reliable.

Also at issue for Greg Loberg, manager of West Coast Beet Seed Company in Salem, a cooperative that produces sugarbeet seed, is that litigation distracts farmers from crop isolation techniques that could remedy problems.

“Litigation is not good for business,” Loberg says. “It’s expensive and it really hampers communication and education. It’s unfortunate, because this ongoing litigation has a tendency to make enemies, rather than encourage coexistence.”

While that atmosphere persists, it will be years before anyone knows the outcome of the OSGATA litigation. Judge Buchwald dismissed the case on Feb. 24, finding that mere potential for injury to organic farmers isn’t the same as actual injury, or even controversy, particularly when Monsanto hasn’t sued any of the plaintiffs and none have lost organic certification over trace contaminants. But despite the suit’s inability to move forward in that New York courtroom, the issue will continue. OSGATA’s Gerritsen says the organization plans to appeal to help organic farmers survive.

“The organic consumer equates freedom from GMO products with organic crops. This is our customer,” Gerritsen says. “Any business has to meet and exceed the requirements of their customer to stay in business.”



 

More Articles

Biker dreams

The Latest
Friday, May 15, 2015
bike at ater wynn-thumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is seeking input from businesses on a $5.5 million initiative to create a network of biking, transit and pedestrian trails within Portland’s central city.


Read more...

Nine lives

Linda Baker
Friday, May 22, 2015
0f4f7bfBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

Roy Kaufmann always lands on his feet.


Read more...

6 things to know about the Amtrak Cascades route

The Latest
Friday, May 22, 2015
thumb3BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The recent tragedy in Philadelphia has called attention to Amtrak and the nation's woefully underfunded rail service. Here are six facts about the Amtrak Cascades corridor between Eugene and Vancouver B.C. 


Read more...

Change at the pump?

The Latest
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
001thumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

New Jersey and Oregon are the only two states in the U.S. that ban self serve gas stations. But these two holdouts may be ready to give up the game. New Jersey is considering legislation that would lift the state's ban on pumping your own gas. Oregon is considering smaller scale changes.


Read more...

The ancient fish that stops bullets

The Latest
Friday, May 08, 2015
hagfishthumbBY CHRIS NOBLE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Hagfish may not have evolved much over the last 300 million years, but their protein-heavy slime promises advances in super-materials.


Read more...

Downtime with the director of Barley's Angels

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Live, Work, Play with Christine Jump.


Read more...

Knight Cancer Challenge No Biotech Dream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The Knight challenge is an important instance of philanthropy. But we should not assume it will magically transform OHSU into a business- and job-spinning engine for the local economy.


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