- Associated Press - Sunday, February 2, 2014

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Oregon’s plans for dealing with genetically modified crops are developing slowly.

Gov. John Kitzhaber called for a state action plan for dealing with conflicts between genetically engineered and conventional crops on Oct. 1, The Statesman Journal reports (http://is.gd/Wm6YmD ).

He asked the Oregon Department of Agriculture to come up with a plan to at least map the areas where different crops may be grown and to mark buffer zones.

The governor promised to put together a task force to help the department and to recommend legislation for 2015.

But agriculture spokesman Bruce Pokarney says they’re still waiting for guidance from the task force, which hasn’t been formed. Meanwhile, others are taking actions in the state around the same issues.

A bill is being considered this legislative session to require labeling of genetically engineered food.

The governor’s office has a tentative list of task force members and co-conveners and expects the task force to have its first meeting this month, said Richard Whitman, the governor’s natural resources adviser.

The task force will address both the conflict between GE and non-GE growers and consumer choice and labeling information, Whitman said.

A group of Jackson County farmers, which they are calling “Our Family Farms Coalition,” has formed a political action committee to support a local ballot measure there.

“We have no choice but to try to let people know just how serious of a risk genetically engineered crops pose to family farms and the ability to make a living as farmers, said Elise Higley, a farmer who is leading the coalition. “If our crops get contaminated with genetically engineered seed or pollen, then we’re out of business.”

Another group is trying to get a citizens’ initiative measure on the ballot this year.

“We’ve got funding. We’re going to win. We’re confident going into 2014 in Oregon,” said George Kimbrell, of the Center for Food Safety’s Pacific Northwest Office.

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Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com