Canola fight pits organic foodies against biofuel advocates

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Willamette Valley's controversy over growing canola for biofuel is creating a conflict between producers of organic foods and renewable energy.

Seed farmers fear canola would cross-pollinate with their plants, destroying the value of the pure seeds they produce. They’re joined in their fight by organic-food lovers, small-farm advocates and opponents of genetically modified crops.

“This is an existential threat,” said Frank Morton, who farms about 12 acres of specialty seeds in Philomath, about 90 miles southwest of Portland. “If canola comes here, it’s the beginning of the end of this industry.”

Canola proponents say Morton and his colleagues are overreacting. With the right controls, they argue, Canola can co-exist without harming other brassicas. Some wheat and grass-seed farmers are eager to use canola as a rotational crop to interrupt disease and pest cycles. They used to burn their fields at the end of the season, but recent pollution controls have severely limited that option.

Read more at The Washington Post.

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