Fighting Monsanto, GMOs for Earth Day

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been causing controversy nationally and locally, and those who are fighting the specter of genetically modified canola in the Willamette Valley as well as the dominance of chemical companies such as Monsanto will be bringing their call to action to EWEB’s Earth Day celebration April 20 and on the 21st.

Sabrina Siegel of GMO Free Oregon says that the group is working on an effort to collect signatures for a 2014 ballot initiative to have GM products labeled in Oregon, as well as a state-level ban. The group has also worked on county-level bans of GM crops in Oregon. Vegetable and seed farmers fear that crops such as canola, which is said to spread like a weed, will contaminate their seeds and damage Oregon’s valuable seed industry.

House Bill 2427, currently in the Legislature, would put a ban on canola in the Willamette Valley that would trump a recent state Department of Agriculture decision to allow up to 2,500 acres of canola production. But proposed amendments to HB 2427 would have a state-funded study at OSU examining the issue of canola’s potential to contaminate other crops and the economic impact of lifting the ban to help legislators make a long-term decision on the issue of the crop, also known as rapeseed. The amendments include a repeal of the ban in 2017.

Siegel says in addition to statewide crop concerns, nationally “the Obama administration has shown countless times to be pro-biotech and pushing biotech agriculture and industry.”

For those who want to know more about canola in the Willamette Valley and about GMOs, there will be a booth for the “Community Bill of Rights,” GMO Free Oregon and more at the EWEB Riverfront Plaza Earth Day celebration from 11 am to 5 pm Saturday, April 20.

On April 21 in the EWEB North Building conference room will be a showing of the documentary Genetic Roulette at 12:30 pm, a film called China’s Coal Crisis at 2:30 pm and at 3 pm a screening of Thomas Linzey’s keynote speech at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference describing how communities can legally assert the rights of nature and the right to local self-government.

On Saturday, May 25, Lane County residents will participate in the worldwide March against Monsanto. Siegel calls it “joyful celebration of sustainable agriculture,” starting at the Wayne Morse Free Speech plaza. Go to Facebook for more information,