More on GMOs

25 May 2015

An update: the Benton County anti-GMO ballot measure 2-89 went down to a resounding defeat in last week’s election: you can read an account in the Corvallis newspaper here.  It was not clear to voters that the measure would not ban genetically-related research at Oregon State University (its language indicated a blanket ban on all genetically modified organisms in the county), and supporters were in addition thoroughly outspent.

Food historian Rachel Laudan brought to my attention this blog by Marc Brazeau on GM foods that came out last year.  It makes some good points about plant breeding in general, and notes that genetic modification is an extension of that age-old practice.

photo by Andy Cripe, Corvallis Gazette-Times

The anti-GMO group say they will try again.

Local Food and GMOs

12 May 2015

A field near Adair Village, Benton County, Oregon. Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

Benton County, Oregon, where I live, has a controversial measure on the ballot for next week’s local elections that would ban all GMO organisms in the county as well as establishing a legal right to a local food system, and allowing citizens to sue on behalf of local land and water systems.  You can read it here.  And here’s some pro and con.

Oregon State University, where I work, is vehemently opposed to this measure, claiming it would interfere with all kinds of genetic research, not just agriculture.  I don’t know if this is true or not, but I expect if the measure passes it will be immediately tied up in courts for a while.  An Oregon ballot measure last year to require GMO labeling was defeated, and many OSU scientists spoke out against that too, which leads me to believe that their opposition is not solely on the basis of the threat to research.

Meanwhile, philosopher of science Roberta Millstein of the University of California, Davis has written a brilliant examination of the GMO problem (or is it?) — here it is.  Stay tuned.