Posted on

GMO task force as divided as rest of state when it comes to genetically engineered crops

A task force studying the challenges of raising genetically engineered crops in Oregon has ended up as divided as the rest of the state on the issue.

The 15-member group, in issuing a draft reportafter seven months of work, found some common ground when it comes to GE crops, but indicated that a number of steep divides remain, as well.

Task force members, appointed by Gov. John Kitzhaber in April, include a handful of farmers, Oregon State University scientists, food processors, and a representative from the Oregon Seed Association.

Their 27-page draft report comes less than two weeks before Oregon voters decide the fate ofMeasure 92, which if approved would require labeling of all foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

The measure has drawn national attention and already has set a record for total spending on an Oregon ballot measure.

The task force, in the opening sentences of its report, mentioned the controversy that continues to surround the issue.

However, the report also make clear that the group’s goal was never to come up with definitive answers. Instead, its charge from the governor was to identify the main obstacles separating those growing GE crops and other farmers; identify areas of agreement and disagreement when it comes to GE crops; and, identify how other jurisdictions both nationally and internationally have dealt with genetically modified crops.

Some over-arching themes contained in the report include the finding that GE-related issues are “polarizing and common ground is hard to find”; that there is no consensus on issues of liability and compensation for losses stemming from GE crops; and, that the controversy often boils down to “a consumer’s right to know versus a farmer’s right to grow. ”

Other topic areas addressed by the task force included cross-pollination and drift, food safety, certification and labeling, and ethics and values.

A final report is expected to be released soon.

The original article published on Oregon Live can be found here.