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

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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
Capital Press | June 21st, 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.

Because USDA let Scotts and Monsanto off the hook for cleaning up their mess in 2015, the burden is now on farmers and landowners to deal with this infestation. And that’s not cheap: Before 2015, Scotts was spending $250-350k a year to find and treat GE bentgrass.

I’m concerned for my crops, as the value would plummet if I am contaminated with GE traits. If my crop, or say a grass seed crop in the Grass Seed Capital of the World, is damaged, isn’t it fair that the company who made that GE trait pay compensation?

The opponents of HB 2739 say the sky will fall if HB 2739 is passed, with outlandish predictions like the end to all sales of GE seeds in Oregon or all innovation of new varieties. That is ridiculous — there is no way this bill would stop the sales or production of Roundup Ready crop varieties, they are just too lucrative for the companies making and selling them.

Why would groups like the Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregonians for Food and Shelter, and even OSU say such things? The answer is clear when you look at who finances these organizations: They all get funding from Monsanto and/or other Big Ag chemical companies. So that is who they represent, not farmers like me.

Jerry Erstrom

Vale, Ore.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.