OSU PhD Student & OWA Member on Why 2-89 is a Bad Idea
Dear Oregon Women for Agriculture,
I attended the Gazette-Times forum on Measure 2-89 on April 29th, 2015. It was standing room only, packed with community members, farmers, academics, and everyone in between. I stood in the back of the 80 degree room with Dona Coon. Mary King and Stephanie Hampton of Benton Food Freedom spoke on behalf of Measure 2-89. Steve Strauss, OSU professor, discussed the potential impact Measure 2-89 would have on OSU. Greg Loberg of West Coast Beet Seed Co. and Debbie Crocker, VP of Oregon Women for Ag, spoke about how the measure could impact Benton County agriculture.
Here is my take on how Measure 2-89 would impact Benton County. These opinions are my own, and not of Oregon State University.
The backers of Measure 2-89 lack facts about GE technology and insist the ordinance is limited to food crops. However, the language of the measure paints broad strokes concerning genetically engineered organisms in Benton County. The measure states: “It shall be unlawful for any corporation or governmental entity to engage in the use of genetically engineered organisms within Benton County”.
The absence of a research exclusion in Measure 2-89 could halt Oregon State University projects utilizing genetic engineering technologies. Some of the projects that would be impacted include research for:
– Therapies for major human diseases
– Approaches for preventing and treating cancer
– Reducing major agricultural diseases of Oregon crops – Improving environmental clean up strategies
– Improve bioenergy and wood crops
– Testing safety of GE products
– Identification and protection of endangered species
If Measure 2-89 passes, the ramifications for OSU research and productivity could be enormous. Analysis from university experts estimate Measure 2-89 might directly impact 120 or more faculty in eight OSU colleges; stop research that was valued at $18.3 million from external funding in fiscal year 2014; affect the education of 300-400 students; and impact 100-200 support university staff.
Christina H. Hagerty
Botany and Plant Pathology
Oregon State University