Oregon Governor Signs Ban on GM Canola in Willamette Valley

Posted on Aug 16 2013 - 12:17am by Sustainable Pulse

Late yesterday, Governor John Kitzhaber (D-OR) signed into law a bill banning commercial production of canola (rapeseed) until 2019 inside the three million acre Willamette Valley Protected District, one of the world’s pre-eminent vegetable seed producing regions.

gm canola

Center for Food Safety (CFS) had sued the Oregon Department of Agriculture after seed and organic vegetable farmers objected to a controversial decision to permit canola production in the Willamette Valley. In court filings, Center for Food Safety argued that canola readily cross-pollinates with brassica specialty seed crops like broccoli, kale, and cabbage; spreads plant diseases and pests to brassica vegetable and seed crops; and can contaminate pure lots of vegetable and clover seed, rendering them unsalable in international and local markets. The vast majority of canola is genetically engineered, which contaminates organic and conventional varieties, as well as cross-pollinates with weeds, creating new invasive species problems, as herbicide resistant traits spread to native weed populations.

“Oregon’s lawmakers and governor have made the right decision: to protect the valuable industry in the Willamette Valley. The Oregon Department of Agriculture’s unlawful action would have allowed dangerous canola planting into the Valley, jeopardizing both Oregon’s farmers and environment,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety. “This important agricultural market will now continue to be a revenue center for the state of Oregon and a source of good jobs for Oregonians.”

“We applaud Governor Kitzhaber for signing HB 2427 into law. Canola is a very risky crop to introduce due to cross-pollination risk and increased pest and disease pressure on other important regional crops. The Willamette Valley should ultimately be protected for the long term, but this bill provides certainty and protections for the Willamette Valley’s valuable specialty seed, fresh market vegetable and organic industries for the next several years, while ensuring future decisions are based on rigorous, peer-reviewed science,” said Ivan Maluski, policy director for Friends of Family Farmers.

The new law overturns an unlawful rule adopted by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) in February 2013 that would have allowed thousands of acres of industrial canola to be planted over the next decade in a region where production of the plant for its seed has long been banned. The Oregon Department of Agriculture attempted in August 2012 to open the valley to widespread canola planting despite overwhelming public opposition. Center for Food Safety and Friends of Family Farmers, on behalf of individual growers, challenged ODA’s original temporary rule, which would have allowed canola planting in the fall of 2012. The Oregon Court of appeals halted that rule-making as unlawful. Because of this successful challenge, no planting of canola has been allowed in the Willamette Valley.

ODA did not give up, again proposing planting in spring 2013. Thus on April 25, 2013 Center for Food Safety filed another lawsuit to halt ODA’s rule to allow canola in the Willamette Valley on behalf of Friends of Family Farmers, Center for Food Safety, Universal Seed, and Wild Garden Seed.

“Working closely with the farmers and allies, we were able to act fast to prevent ODA’s disastrous decision from taking effect. Our court case prevented any canola from being planted, allowing time for our legislative strategy to work. Fortunately, this new law will trump the agency’s unlawful rule that would have allowed planting. This valuable industry is safe from the threat of canola,” added Kimbrell.

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23 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Donna Heintz August 16, 2013 at 01:00 - Reply

    Thank you, Gov. Kitzhaber!! It’s a start! Now, kick out all the GMO agriculture in our state and have all GMO products labeled so Oregonians can make informed choices about what they want to eat to stay healthy. GMO’s are not healthy choices.

    • LL Broili August 21, 2013 at 18:06 - Reply

      Time now to get the rest of this he GMO crops out of Oregon!

  2. Lori Higa August 16, 2013 at 03:39 - Reply

    Are there other GMO crops that have been growing in Willamette Valley that are not banned? If so, which crops? I read somewhere that GMO sugar beets have been growing there. Is this true?

    • Barb Peterson August 20, 2013 at 18:30 - Reply

      The Willamette Valley grows almost 100% of the nation’s sugar beet seeds, and they are at least 95% genetically engineered:

      If you purchase conventional table sugar in the US, you’re probably buying a product made from Roundup Ready sugar beets whose seeds were cultivated here in the Willamette Valley. Our Valley supplies close to 100 percent of the nation’s sugar beet seeds, more than 95 percent of which exhibit Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait. Like cooking oils made from GM crops, you’re not eating the product of the transgene, a protein, in sugar. Still, GM sugar beets can cross-pollinate non-GM table beets and chard in the Valley, passing the transgene into non-GM seeds. www.corvallisadvocate.com/2013/0110-gmo-willamette-valley/

    • Barb Peterson August 20, 2013 at 18:36 - Reply

      P.S. The cited article is relatively pro-GMO, but it does have accurate info regarding the amount of sugar beet seed grown in the valley. I do not agree with the pro-GMO statements, but used the article for reference ;)

  3. linda bishop August 20, 2013 at 15:41 - Reply

    nice to know that there are some logical thinkers left in government….

  4. Jenny August 20, 2013 at 20:44 - Reply

    Gov Kitzhaber – Thank you for doing something our Federal government is failing to do… keeping our crops pure. It used to be that we could count on the FDA to protect our food. Now we hear things such as the fact that very little, if any of the produce imported from other countries is monitored/checked by the FDA. Please keep this up!

  5. Donna Smith August 21, 2013 at 02:07 - Reply

    Thank you! Small steps….

  6. Ursula Kavaliauskas August 21, 2013 at 02:16 - Reply

    Thank you for breaking new ground in this exhausting fight with biotech industry leaders! Its time for the GMO farmers to get together and discuss, without pressure from Monsanto, whether they are truly better off. Higher profits? Probably not! Greater yields? Not likely. Less pesticides. Certainly not. Who is truly gaining from GMOs? A healthier population? Absurd! Time for this fight to be waged from the fields, where farmers are threatened, followed, coerced, and otherwise forced to comply with the GMO top guns!

  7. Tara Woodard August 21, 2013 at 02:59 - Reply

    Thank you Governor Kitzhaber! I am so happy to know that someone in government is doing something right to protect our food source from the curse of GMO. Please continue to hold fast. There are many of us out hear who will support you!

  8. Anne Stabile August 21, 2013 at 04:50 - Reply

    THANK YOU, Governor Kitzhaber!!! Next: no GMO food in WV AND GMO labeling! But, one thing at a time,

  9. Sharon Webster August 21, 2013 at 07:43 - Reply

    Thank you Governor Kitzhaber for protecting the Willamette Valley. This is a big step in the right direction. We really need Oregon to become a GMO free state.

  10. Tamera Danforth August 21, 2013 at 10:03 - Reply

    Thank you, Governor!!!

  11. Denise August 21, 2013 at 11:06 - Reply

    Thank you. The health of our country depends on it.

  12. Mary Solo August 21, 2013 at 12:51 - Reply

    Worth repeating. … Thank you, Gov. Kitzhaber!! It’s a start! Now, kick out all the GMO agriculture in our state and have all GMO products labeled so Oregonians can make informed choices about what they want to eat to stay healthy. GMO’s are not healthy choices. to know that someone in government is doing something right to protect our food source from the curse of GMO. Please continue to hold fast. There are many of us out hear who will support you!Barb Peterson said on August 20, 2013

    The Willamette Valley grows almost 100% of the nation’s sugar beet seeds, and they are at least 95% genetically engineered:

    If you purchase conventional table sugar in the US, you’re probably buying a product made from Roundup Ready sugar beets whose seeds were cultivated here in the Willamette Valley. Our Valley supplies close to 100 percent of the nation’s sugar beet seeds, more than 95 percent of which exhibit Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait. Like cooking oils made from GM crops, you’re not eating the product of the transgene, a protein, in sugar. Still, GM sugar beets can cross-pollinate non-GM table beets and chard in the Valley, passing the transgene into non-GM seeds. www.corvallisadvocate.com/2013/0110-gmo-willamette-valley/

    Reply Barb Peterson said on August 20, 2013
    P.S. The cited article is relatively pro-GMO, but it does have accurate info regarding the amount of sugar beet seed grown in the valley. I do not agree with the pro-GMO statements, but used the article for reference ty

  13. Gina Bradley August 21, 2013 at 19:53 - Reply

    THANK YOU GOV. KITZHABER!!!!

  14. Margaret Freihofer August 21, 2013 at 23:50 - Reply

    While I am NOT a fan of the new GMO plants as a broad generalization, wouldn’t any hybrid be considered “GMO”? Is there a specific definition of “GMO” as there is for “organic”? I hope people are aware that “canola” is, and always has been, a hybrid between two types of rapa (a.k.a. “rape-seed”) plants: “canola” was developed in Canada around the 1930′s/40′s when their production of high-heat resistant bio-based lubricating oil was no longer needed as they transitioned from steam-powered trains to diesel-powered trains. The reason for the hybridization was to remove the sulfur smell so that people would be willing to eat it. Then they needed to market it, and were wise enough to figure people would not be likely to try “rape-seed” oil. How did it get the name “Canola?”
    CAN from Canada and OLA to represent Oil…

  15. Celina August 22, 2013 at 16:30 - Reply

    Thank you!

  16. Cenya Eichengreen August 22, 2013 at 18:20 - Reply

    THANK YOU, GOV. KITZHABER! Now can we please get labels on GMO food? I want to know what I’m eating and I think we have that right.
    I’m proud to live in the Willamette Valley. Let’s make it GMO-free.

  17. Tammy Imholt August 26, 2013 at 07:53 - Reply

    Thank you, Governor Kitzhaber, for doing the right thing!

  18. Tony Perry August 26, 2013 at 20:36 - Reply

    Time to rout out the individuals in the ODA who are being illegally bribed and prosecute them.

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