Democracy at work: Score One for the Seed Farmers
July 11, 2013 § 10 Comments
Canola ban clears Legislature
I’m flag waving today because round 1 in the Willamette Valley canola battle went to the specialty seed farmers, a group that consists largely of smaller-scale operations. Grass roots politics work!
Canola is an all right crop — just don’t bring it here. Businesses from all over the world order Willamette valley seeds, many varieties of which are organic. Canola was banned in a 3.6 million acre portion of the valley because it cross-breeds with other plants in the same genus (mustard, cabbage, kohlrabi, turnips, broccoli, brussel sprouts and kale and more), and is susceptible to, and spreads, disease and pests. Also, 95% of it is genetically modified, although this wasn’t part of the official fight against it. The other problems were enough.
I wrote earlier (Rapeseed, Gas vs. Grass) about an underhanded attempt by the Oregon Farm Bureau (good friends of Dow Chemical, Syngenta and Monsanto) and the Department of Agriculture to pass an under-the-wire “temporary exception” to the ban on canola. Temporary, of course, would haven meant an opportunity for canola to spread and become permanent.
Thanks to farmers who showed up for hearings, organizations like the Friends of Family Farmers who spread the word, and volunteers who wrote to legislators and attended rallies, the Oregon State Legislature just banned canola in the valley until 2019, and allocated money to study the effects of canola on other crops.
A sweet victory for Oregon seed farmers, and for those of us who fear we can’t make a difference. We can.