Petition against crop has raised more than 10,000 signatures.
GMO canola plantings in Oregon have been halted following a lawsuit from the Center with Friends of Family Farmers, the Center for Food Safety and three Willamette Valley specialty seed producers.
The lawsuit challenged the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s recent temporary rule that approved GMO canola planting in a 1.7 million acre area. The plaintiffs are arguing that the GMO crop would put the nearby small and organic farms at risk for contamination. The Center for Food Safety says that canola cross-pollinates with crops such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and turnips and easily naturalizes as a weed.
According to Friends of Family Farmers, Willamette Valley is among the top five places in the world for growing and supplying specialty seeds. As canola is a very invasive species, cross pollination could threaten the seed diversity and contaminate organic crops.
“We had no other option than to go to the courts,” says Leah Rodgers, field director for FoFF. “We have tried to work with the Kitzhaber administration to slow down this process and engage all stakeholders in public notice and comment, but ODA steamrolled producers and have rushed to open 1.7 million acres in the Willamette Valley to canola, a low-value crop with a huge, adverse impact on several high-value industries. This could mean disaster for Oregon’s seed and organic industries.”
State officials had banned the planting of all canola on more than 3 million acres in the valley to protect specialty vegetable seed producers who feared contamination. Upon opening the 1.7 million acres to canola growers, the state said it would require both canola and specialty growers to report what they are planting and where.
“A number of our domestic and international seed purchasers have already made statements that they will no longer purchase Oregon seeds if more canola comes to the Willamette Valley,” saysNick Tichinin, owner of Universal Seed. “ODA’s shortsighted decision to expand the canola area will have long lasting economic impacts on a sector of agriculture that has been deeply rooted in Oregon for generations and on all of the families that own those businesses.”
Over the course of its first week, an opposition petition collected more than 10,000 signatures from Oregonians and another 10,000 from citizens across the nation. To sign the petition, click here.