The threat to Oregon’s organic farmers from contamination by transgenic pollen is entirely of their own making, and Oregon voters should reject their proposed GMO ban [“Voters weigh local GMO ban in Southern Oregon,” Local News, May 17]. Pollen contamination flows both ways, and Syngenta could as reasonably ask voters to ban organic farming.
In the ’60s and ’70s, the organic movement was about avoiding harmful chemicals and conserving topsoil to promote ecologically sustainable agriculture, not about genetic methods or promoting agricultural eugenics. However, in 1997 the organic industry insisted that USDA rules for organic foods exclude transgenic crops, later resulting in rules prohibiting transgenes in certified organic foods.
Organic farmers could easily eliminate their threat and the cost of GMO testing by changing their rules, but their marketing now depends not on demonstrating any ecological benefit, but on playing to fear and ignorance of genetics that they have actively encouraged.
Thirty years of research has found no nutritional difference between organic foods and other foods, GMOs or otherwise. Some evidence indicates that organic farming is better for biodiversity; organic farmers could instead ask voters to ban herbicides, which would better align with their historical ecological roots. But this does not market as well as unfounded fear of transgenes.
Paul Talbert, Seattle