LTE in support of HB 2739 - "GE developers should be held accountable"

Must read! This powerful letter to the editor from Malheur County Farmer, Jerry Erstrom, was just published in the Capital Press. Erstrom argues in favor of HB 2739, and highlights the real-time need for protection from GE contamination in Oregon. He also points out that those opposing the bill are (not surprisingly) funded by Monsanto and other Big Ag chemical companies, and are (not surprisingly) using the same old "sky is falling" talking points that we hear all the time when anyone tries to regulate or label GMOs. 

GE developers should be held accountable

By Jerry Erstrom

June 21, 2017 | I am a farmer in Malheur County, Ore., where I grow seed crops (including non-GE alfalfa), vegetables, and Roundup Ready field corn.

I am not opposed to genetically engineered crops, but as a farmer of some non-GE varieties and after my experience with GE contamination in my alfalfa seed production and with the GE creeping bentgrass escape, I am a supporter of making the right people accountable if crops are damaged. That is why I support HB 2739.

As the chairman of the Malheur County Weed Board, I’ve had a front row seat to the damage caused by Roundup Ready GE bentgrass, which spreads easily on the wind and through water, infesting irrigation ditches and cross-pollinating with wild relatives.

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Azure Standard Update, May 23 -- Azure Farms ‘on the right track’ but faces challenges in controlling weeds

Azure Farms ‘on the right track’ but faces challenges in controlling weeds
By  Eric Mortenson

May 23, 2017 | ... Barroso said the perennial weeds growing at Azure Farms are difficult to control, and it will take more than a single application or action to do the job. Because Azure Farms is organic, it would lose certification for three years if it attacks its weeds with the herbicides used by conventional farms in the area. Some local farmers believe the weed problem is so bad that Azure should spray, take its lumps with decertification and start organic farming again with clean fields in three years.

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Oregonians Demand Clean Cannabis, Urge OHA to Keep Pesticide Standards

Oregonians don't want harmful pesticides or other contaminates on their cannabis. We don't blame them.

Oregonians Overwhelmingly Tell Regulators To Keep Current Cannabis Testing Rules
By Keith Mansur

May 20, 2017 | Oregon Health Authority (OHA) made a proposal in March to change the pesticide testing rules for recreational cannabis products. The changes they put forth would roll back requirements on flower batches and concentrates to ridiculously low levels even though concentrates and flowers have shown a contamination rate of over 25% on concentrates and 10% on simple flower samples.

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Children from Coos Bay Day Care Center Fall Ill After Pesticide Exposure

Children and staff from a Coos Bay day care center fell ill and suffered from inflamed eyes and breathing problems after exposure to a pesticide called Tempo, which was sprayed inside the facility due to a flea infestation. "The owner, Elizabeth 'Betty' Ewing, said in an interview Monday that she bought and sprayed the wrong insecticide inside her childcare center. But Ewing blamed the mistake on an employee of the Coos Bay Grange Co-op who sold her the product, saying she received the wrong chemical". The investigation is on-going.

We urge everyone, if they MUST use a pesticide, to do so cautiously and responsibly. It's important to be well informed about the pesticide that will be used, and to follow all safety recommendations. Better yet, practice preventative measures to avoid an infestation requiring pesticides in the first place. IPM (Integrated Pest Management) strategies are good to follow when dealing with pests -- which calls for pesticide use as a last resort.

Oregon day care closes as kids fall sick after insecticide exposure
By Brad Schmidt

May 16th, 2017 | A Coos Bay day care center shut down Monday in the aftermath of an insecticide-spraying incident that left at least a half-dozen children and two staff members suffering from inflamed eyes and breathing problems.

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Azure Standard Update, May 18 -- Sherman County Won't Spray Chemicals on Organic Farm

Following viral post, Sherman Co. won't spray chemicals on organic farm
By Katherine Cook

May 18, 2017 | MORO, Ore. -- A fight pitting organic against commercial farms in the Columbia River Gorge is gaining national attention.

At the center of the fight is Azure Standard, a 2,000-acre wheat farm in Moro. CEO David Stelzer, posted a now-viral message on Azure’s Facebook page saying Sherman County officials would spray Azure Standard with chemicals. A move he said would kill the farm’s certified organic status.

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Lincoln County Measure 21-177 Update, May 17

Still Too Close To Call For Lincoln County Pesticide Measure
By Rachael McDonald

May 17, 2017 | We won’t know the final vote count on a ballot measure to ban aerial pesticide spraying in Lincoln County until early June. The ordinance is currently passing with a 27 vote margin.

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Azure Standard Update, May 17 -- An Ongoing Debate About Contamination, Responsibility, and Weeds

We appreciated this well-rounded article by OPB, addressing the different sides to this story, and the ongoing arguments about crop contamination from one farm to another. We encourage you to read it through.

Weeds And Herbicides Puts An Organic Farm At Odds With Neighboring Growers In Oregon
By Courtney Flatt

May 17, 2017 | Weeds. Nobody wants them. But, lately, the subject has taken over everything in rural Sherman County — the talk around town, email servers, even the local high school gymnasium.

At issue is whether a large organic farm, Azure Standard, is letting its weeds spread onto neighboring property — and whether the government should do something about it. Neighboring farmers say the weeds have crept onto their fields, costing them time and money to control the problem.

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Lincoln County Ballot Measure 21-177 Would Ban Aerial Pesticide Spraying

The local initiative, entitled “Freedom of Lincoln County from Aerially-Sprayed Pesticides”, would ban aerial pesticide spraying in coastal Lincoln County, and will be voted on in the upcoming May 2017 election. This would be the fourth Community Rights Measure that Oregonians will have voted on.

Citizens for a Healthy County say the ordinance will:

  1. Ban aircraft application of pesticides on clearcut forest land in Lincoln County.
  2. Protect our right to choose clean drinking water.
  3. Relieve our families and properties, wildlife and watershed from pesticide drift.
  4. Allow spray by backpack or tractor for farm, home, or fishing boat applications.
  5. Establish a local bill of rights to enable people to make important decisions about what happens in our community.
  6. Affirm and protect our rights to safety guaranteed to us under the Oregon State Constitution Article 1.
  7. Safeguard our wildlife from Atrazine and 2,4-D

You can read the full text of the ordinance here:

Measure Would Ban Aerial Pesticide Spraying In Lincoln County
By Rachael McDonald

May 8, 2017 | Oregon voters in coastal Lincoln County are considering a ballot measure that would ban aerial spraying of pesticides and herbicides.

It’s a practice that became a concern last month for City of Depoe Bay Supervisor Brady Weidner when he found an email in his inbox. It said Hancock Timber was going to spray herbicides from helicopters on a recently logged track near the city’s reservoir within a few days. Weidmar was alarmed because that reservoir supplies water to the small coastal community.

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HB 2739 - Oregon GMO liability bill survives crucial deadline.

HB 2739 survived the deadline! Biotech patent holders would be legally responsible for losses caused by their genetically engineered crops in Oregon if this bill is passed.

Read the full text of HB 2739, and stay updated on it's progress here: Oregon State Legislature | HB 2739
Oregon GMO liability bill survives Legislature’s deadline
By Mateusz Perkowski

April 18, 2017 | House Bill 2739 would allow landowners to sue biotech patent holders for the unwanted presence of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, on their land.

The bill has now been referred to the House Rules Committee, which isn’t subject to an April 18 legislative deadline that recently killed other proposals.

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GE Bent Grass Takes Root in Oregon

GMO grass that 'escaped' defies eradication, divides grass seed industry
By Jeff Manning

January 8, 2017 | After more than a decade of unsuccessful efforts to eradicate the genetically modified grass it created and allowed to escape, lawn and garden giant Scotts Miracle-Gro now wants to step back and shift the burden to Oregonians.

The federal government is poised to allow that to happen by relinquishing its oversight, even as an unlikely coalition of farmers, seed dealers, environmentalists, scientists and regulators cry foul.

The altered grass has taken root in Oregon, of all places, the self-professed grass seed capital of the world with a billion-dollar-a-year industry at stake. The grass has proven hard to kill because it's been modified to be resistant to Roundup, the ubiquitous, all-purpose herbicide.

The situation is particularly tense in Malheur County, where Scotts' altered grass has taken root after somehow jumping the Snake River from test beds in Idaho.

"Imagine I had a big, sloppy, nasty Rottweiler, and you lived next door in your perfectly manicured house," said Bill Buhrig, an Oregon State University extension agent in Malheur County. "Then I dump the dog in your backyard, I take off and now it's your problem."

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