This post is all about GE Crops.

Action Alert
Monday, March 25, 2013  
We know you've been seeing many "Action Alerts" from us over the last couple weeks, but bills of concern continue to get committee hearings. We do not mean to overwhelm you, but several important bills are up for a hearing TOMORROW, 
Tuesday March 26 at 8:00am at the Capitol 

If you grow, or ever plan on growing, 
genetically engineered (GE) 
crops, tomorrow's hearing on three anti-biotechnology bills is extremely important.

HB 2319 - Declares that the planting,  growing, or harvesting of a GE crop is not considered a "farming practice", and requires ODA to regulate these crops. 

HB 2715 - Allows counties to establish control areas for crops that contain GE materials.

HB 2736 - Would require growers of GE crops to register with ODA prior to planting, and require ODA to report that data. Requires ODA to regulate seed contracts.


Tell legislators why you OPPOSE these bills! 

HB 2319 would put ODA in charge of "protecting" non-genetically engineered (GE) crop growers from GE material from neighbors. It allows ODA to have GE crops removed if they are perceived as a threat to neighbors, and gives them authority to collect civil penalties up to $10,000. OFS opposes this bill because it puts a new burden on GE growers to prove they are no threat to neighbor's crops, and suggests that GE crops are something that needs to be avoided. 

OFS Opposes HB 2319 because: 
  • It would create a definition of "farm practice" which does not include the growing of GE crops. Over 17.3 million farmers around the world use agricultural biotechnology on over 170 million hectares. In the US over 90% of corn, soybeans and cotton are biotech varieties.Significant amounts of sugarbeets, canola, papaya, and alfalfa are GE as well. 
  • GE crops are already regulated by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (part of USDA) to ensure they are no threat to neighboring crops. 
  • GE growers sign stewardship agreements when purchasing GE seed which outlines recommended agronomic practices for the particular crop. 
  • GE crops are no more of a threat to neighboring farmers than any other crop of the same species. 
  • Farmers, whether conventional, organic, or GE,  need to take precautions to coexist with one another just like they have for years. 
  • This bill suggests that GE crops are a threat to neighboring farmers without any scientific justification. 
  • This bill adds a new responsibility for ODA without funding for a new program.
Click on the number to see the text of HB 2319 

HB 2715 would allow counties to establish control areas for crops that contain genetically engineered (GE) materials. OFS opposes this bill because allowing counties to limit these crops without scientific basis greatly disadvantages Oregon farmers.This bill would allow Oregon's 36 counties, and over 400 cities, to add regulations on these important crops. This will eliminate the rights of farmers across Oregon to operate their farms without local regulators deciding what crops they can and cannot choose to grow.

OFS Opposes HB 2715 
  • Local counties and municipalities are not technically or financially equipped to regulate agricultural crops.
  • USDA, EPA, and the FDA, currently regulate GE plants and have access to the needed expertise on the issue. The cost of discovery, development and authorization of a new plant biotechnology trait introduced between 2008 and 2012 was $136 million, and takes an average of 13.1 years to make it from discovery to commercial market.
  • ODA has the plant scientist's expertise to determine if additional Oregon specific regulations are needed.
  • Different restrictions on seeds in different counties and municipalities creates a regulatory nightmare for growers, manufacturers, distributors, and local governments.
  • Farmers could potentially face new regulations from 36 counties and over 400 cities in Oregon.
  • Counties and cities lack the financial resources and expertise to enforce regulations on agricultural seed.
  • GE crops are no more of a threat to neighboring farmers than any other crop of the same species.
 Click on the number to see the text of HB 2715 

HB 2736 would:
  • Exempt farmer from liability for inadvertent presence of GE material.
  • Establish protocols for acquisition and analysis of plant samples by manufacturer of GE plants.
  • Prohibit open field growing of certain pharmaceutical crops.
  • Require growers to register with ODA prior to growing GE plants.
  • Requires ODA to report information regarding GE plant production.
  • Prohibit certain provisions in contracts authorizing use of genetically engineered seeds. 
OFS Opposes HB 2736 because:  
  • Requiring registration of GE crops with ODA presumes that these crops are dangerous and need to be tracked which is not true.
  • Registration with ODA prior to planting also limits a growers flexibility in what they plant.
  • GE crops are already regulated by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (part of USDA) to ensure they are no threat to neighboring crops.
  • GE seed manufacturers have policies against holding farmers liable for advantageous presence of GE material.
  • Advantageous presence of GE material does not affect organic certification.
  • GE crops are no more of a threat to neighboring farmers than any other crop of the same species.
  • Farmers, whether conventional, organic, or GE,  need to take precautions to coexist with one another just like they have for years.
 Click on the number to see the text of HB 2736

The hearing is Tuesday, March 26th, at  8 am in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources  in Hearing Room "D" at the State Capitol in Salem

Representative Brad Witt is Chairman of the Committee, other Committee members are Sal Esquivel, Vice-Chair, Caddy McKeown, Vice-Chair, Brian Clem, Wayne Krieger, Jeff Reardon, Jim Thompson, Ben Unger, and Gail Whitsett.

If you plan to testify before the Committee, please provide 15 paper copies to the Committee assistant when you testify.  

If you can not attend in person, please send your comments to the Committee Administrator to be entered into the record:

Committee Assistant: maria.kelly@state.or.us

Committee Members:
Rep. Brad Witt:  rep.bradwitt@state.or.us  503-986-1431 
Rep. Sal Esquivel:  rep.salesquivel@state.or.us  503-986-1406
Rep. Caddy McKeown:  rep.caddymckeown@state.or.us
    503-986-1409
Rep. Brian Clem:  rep.brianclem@state.or.us  503-986-1421
Rep. Wayne Krieger:  rep.waynekrieger@state.or.us
     503-986-1401
Rep. Jeff Reardon:  rep.jeffreardon@state.or.us  503-986-1448
Rep. Jim Thompson:  rep.jimthompson@state.or.us 
     503-986-1423
Rep. Ben Unger:  rep.benunger@state.or.us  503-986-1429
Rep. Gail Whitsett:  rep.gailwhitsett@state.or.us  503-986-1456 

If you have any questions please call Paulette or Scott at (503) 370-8092