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Oregonian: John Kitzhaber convenes Oregon GMO task force
Author: Yuxing Zheng, Oregonian
Posted: April 11, 2014

Read the original article from the Oregonian here.

Gov. John Kitzhaber on Wednesday announced the formation of a 13-member task force on genetically modified organisms that could lead to legislation on labeling and agriculture in 2015.

Kitzhaber pledged to create the task force last October after the passage of a divisive bill that bars counties other than Jackson from regulating genetically modified crops. The inclusion of the legislation in a five-bill special session package on public pensions and taxes angered environmentalists and organic farmers

"Oregon farmers and consumers are grappling with major issues associated with genetically modified crops and food," Kitzhaber said in a press release. "This task force will bring people with diverse perspective together to help improve understanding of the range of issues and move forward on solutions that fit Oregonians' values and needs."

The Task Force on Genetically Engineered Agriculture is scheduled to hold a Thursday organizational meeting in Portland. It will meet through the autumn.

The group is tasked with identifying the major issues between growers of genetically engineered products and non-genetically engineered products, including organic farmers. The task force will also identify areas of agreement and disagreement on genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered food products, including labeling, and solutions other states have found.

Leading the group will be Daniel Arp, dean of Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Sciences, and Jennifer Allen, director of Portland State University's Institute for Sustainable Solutions.

Task force members:

  • Barry Bushue, Oregon Farm Bureau
  • Katy Coba, Oregon Department of Agriculture
  • Connie Kirby, Northwest Food Processors Association
  • Greg Loberg, Oregon Seed Trade Council
  • Ivan Maluski, Friends of Family Farmers
  • Frank Morton, Shoulder to Shoulder Farm
  • Jim Myers, Oregon State University
  • Marty Myers, Threemile Canyon Farms
  • Paulette Pyle, Oregonians for Food and Shelter
  • Chris Schreiner, Oregon Tilth
  • Lisa Sedlar, Green Zebra Grocery
  • Steve Strauss, Oregon State University
  • Sam Tannahill, A to Z Wineworks

Voters could weigh in on GMO labeling before next year's legislative session. Scott Bates, a Tigard software architect, is leading efforts behind two GMO-labeling initiatives.


Meanwhile, money is pouring into Jackson County to fight a measure on the May ballot that would ban some genetically modified crops. Monsanto, Syngenta, and four other pesticide and plant biotechnology firms last week donated $455,000 to the opposition campaign.