Fight over Expanding Canola in Oregon Pits Organic Food Lovers against Biofuels Advocates
(Associated Press/Washington Post) Wet winters and cool, dry summers make Oregon’s Willamette Valley one of the best places on the globe to produce seeds for organic broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and a variety of other vegetables known as brassicas.
That means the fields south of Portland are also an ideal place to grow canola, another brassica whose seeds can be pressed to extract oil for food or renewable fuel.
But you won’t find any canola here. It was banned from the Willamette Valley to protect the delicate vegetable seeds from being contaminated by pollen from canola or destroyed by the pests and diseases it brings.
Demand for renewable energy, however, has helped fuel a push to grow canola in the region, raising a tense conflict between producers of organic foods and renewable energy in a state that cherishes both.
Seed farmers fear canola would cross-pollinate with their plants, destroying the value of the pure seeds they produce.
…Some wheat and grass-seed farmers are eager to use canola as a rotational crop to interrupt disease and pest cycles. They used to burn their fields at the end of the season, but recent pollution controls have severely limited that option. READ MORE