Posted on

Oregon task force to take on GMOs

LifeSource in South Salem supports the NON GMO Project. Photographed Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
LifeSource in South Salem supports the NON GMO Project. Photographed Wednesday, March 5, 2014. / DANIELLE PETERSON / Statesman Journal
Written by Tracy Loew
Six months after Oregon banned cities and counties from regulating genetically modified crops and seeds, a governor-appointed task force will take a statewide look at the issue.

The Genetically Engineered Agriculture Task Force isn’t expected to reach consensus or recommend legislation.

Instead, it will “identify and frame the major issues between growers of genetically engineered agricultural products and other producers, including organic growers,” Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office said Wednesday.

It also will direct a state Department of Agriculture report, due by the end of June, that will set out a plan for mapping where and when genetically engineered crops are grown and for providing buffers and exclusion zones.

“Oregon farmers and consumers are grappling with major issues associated with genetically modified crops and food,” Kitzhaber said. “This task force will bring people with diverse perspectives together to help improve understanding of the range of issues and move forward on solutions that fit Oregonians’ values and needs.”

Kitzhaber promised the task force in a letter to legislative leaders following last fall’s special session, when a bill barring local governments from regulating genetically engineered crops and seeds was added to his “grand bargain” tax and school funding package as a condition of its passage.

The move infuriated many organic farmers and environmentalists.

Kitzhaber announced the names of the task force members Wednesday afternoon. The group will hold its first meeting today.

The task force“>co-conveners, named in February, are Dan Arp, dean of Oregon State University’s School of Agriculture, and Jennifer Allen, director of Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions.

Task force committee members, announced Wednesday, are:

• Barry Bushue, longtime Oregon Farm Bureau president.

• Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

• Connie Kirby, vice president at the Northwest Food Processors Association.

• Greg Loberg, secretary/treasurer of the Oregon Seed Association and manager at West Coast Beet Seed Company.

• Ivan Maluski, director of Friends of Family Farmers.

• Frank Morton, of the organic Shoulder to Shoulder Farm.

• Jim Myers, vegetable breeding and genetics professor at Oregon State University.

• Marty Myers, of Threemile Canyon Farms, a sustainable farm in Boardman.

• Paulette Pyle, of Oregonians for Food and Shelter, a nonprofit supporting the use of pesticides, fertilizers and biotechnology.

• Chris Schreiner, executive director of the nonprofit Oregon Tilth, which promotes sustainable agriculture.

• Lisa Sedlar, founder and chief executive officer of Green Zebra Grocery and former New Seasons CEO.

• Steve Strauss, Oregon State University professor and creator and director of the Tree Biosafety and Genomics Research Cooperative.

• Sam Tannahill, director of viticulture and winemaking at A to Z Wineworks.

In February, the Legislature allocated $125,000 toward running the task force. It will go to Portland State University’s Oregon Consensus Program.

The task force is expected to continue meeting through this fall., (503) 399-6779 or follow at

Click here for the original article at Statesman Journal.