Governor Convenes State GMO Panel

By Devan Schwartz

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber convened a panel of regional experts today to discuss the contentious issues surrounding genetically modified foods. Governor John Kitzhaber spoke in downtown Portland before a panel of farmers, grocers, educators and regulators.

The governor says it’s important to debate the pluses and minuses of genetically modified organisms or GMOs.

Kitzhaber: “It’s an area that affects our economic future. It’s an area that obviously has environmental overtones. And so I think it’s important that we have a thoughtful, fact-based path forward rather than simply standing on either side of the street and throwing bricks at each other.”

The panel’s work comes during an important time regionally and nationally.

Voters in Jackson and Josephine County are considering May ballot measures that could ban genetically modified crops. The Oregon legislature passed a bill preventing such restrictions in other parts of the state.

Washington State voters turned down a GMO labeling measure in November; California voters did the same in 2012. The governor’s panel will meet through the fall. Kitzhaber expects their work to inform state legislation on genetically modified foods in 2015.

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