Canola In the News
Specialty seed growers say they’ll keep fighting controversial crop
The Oregon Department of Agriculture approved a rule on Thursday allowing a limited amount of canola production in the Willamette Valley, but opponents of the controversial measure vowed a battle to overturn it.
Canola produces seeds that are crushed to make cooking oil or as a feedstock for biodiesel. Also known as rapeseed, it is widely grown in parts of Canada and the United States.
But it has been almost entirely absent from the Willamette Valley, where it is viewed by specialty seed producers as a threat to their $32 million industry. A member of the brassica family, canola readily cross-pollinates with a number of crops grown in the region, including radish, cabbage, mustard, broccoli and chard. READ MORE...
(Reuters) - A U.S. farm group, seed producers and biotech critics filed suit on Wednesday against Oregon officials in an effort to curtail planting of genetically modified canola, warning of a potential "disaster" for the state's seed and organic industries.
The litigation joins a long list of efforts to limit the footprint of many genetically altered crops, which opponents fear are threatening conventional and organic farm production as well as increasing weed and pest resistance.
The plaintiffs are seeking a stay on a move by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to issue a temporary rule opening previously protected zones for canola planting.
ODA introduces seed nightmare to the Willamette Valley Eugene Weekly Article | August 15, 2012 | By Frank Morton
Oregon's Department of Agriculture has made good on its determination to shrink the Willamette Valley Canola Control District, despite ongoing objections from Willamette Valley specialty seed growers, seed companies, clover growers and the Clover Commission, fresh market vegetable producers, organic growers, and Oregon Tilth, the state's largest certifier of organic crops. Each group has its own specific objections to canola. These concerns include genetic cross-contamination of specialty brassica seeds, increased insect and disease problems, weed issues that in turn contaminate clover, grass and vegetable seeds with canola seed that cannot be sorted out from other seed. Organic farmers and certifiers are doubly concerned about the introduction of GMO (genetically modified) canola, as this opens up multiple routes for contamination of organic foods through seed, animal and dairy feed, and pasturage.
This ODA decision is a turnaround to its 2009 determination that canola production represents a substantial risk to the specialty seed industry in the Willamette Valley, a $34 million business with global reach. After a three-year study involving OSU scientists and specialists in agronomy, weeds, insects, diseases and genetic drift, ODA Director Katy Coba ordered that a “protected zone” be established to keep canola production out of the area traditionally covered by the Willamette Valley Specialty Seed Association's seed isolation maps and associated rules. The 2009 rule contained a clause requiring the agency to revisit the rule at the end of 2012.
Growing Canola Controversy
Eugene Weekly Article | August 9, 2012 | By Camilla Mortensen
Canola. It sounds so harmless. Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seed in Philomath says that the name comes from “Canadian oil,” and the moniker was devised after Canadian scientists took a plant called rapeseed and modified it to make it lower in erucic acid and thus a little more edible for animals and humans. Canola is causing a controversy among those who support local foods as well as spurring allegations about biofuels producers and suppliers such as Eugene’s SeQuential Biofuels.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture is expanding the areas where canola can be grown in the Willamette Valley — some farmers in Oregon are interested in growing canola as an energy source — but that endangers the livelihoods of specialty seed growers.
The ODA has adopted a temporary rule starting Aug. 10 that will expire in 180 days, but allows canola planting in September. Morton says that temporary rule does not allow for public comment. ODA is also going for a permanent rule that will allow public comment, but at that point canola will already have been planted — without public input, Morton says.
No Canola to be Planted This Fall
Article | September 5, 2012 - 11:00pm | By Camilla Mortensen
Canola (aka rapeseed) opponents are celebrating the announcement that canola will not be planted in the Willamette Valley this year. The Oregon Court of Appeals has put a stay on a temporary rule that would have allowed the controversial crop to be planted in an expanded area this fall on about 480,000 acres in the valley.
Canola is grown as a food crop and for biofuels, but vegetable and specialty seed producers say the plant acts like a weed, cross-contaminates with vegetable seed crops like turnips and rutabagas, and conventional canola seed is often contaminated by genetically modified (GMO) canola. The Willamette Valley has had a 3.7 million acre zone from Portland to Springfield that protected Oregon’s $32 million a year seed industry from canola contamination. The new rule would have allowed canola at the edges of the zone.