Writings and observations

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RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

The chemistry of farming is becoming an unexpectedly heated subject of discussion which is about to go deeply political.

The issue of genetic modification has already gone political, of course, notably in Jackson and Josephine Counties, where voters chose to ban those substances. (The vote was advisory only in Josephine, since state law didn’t allow a by-county change anywhere but Jackson.)

That issue going statewide, with either legislative or ballot issue action almost surely just around the bend.

Then there’s the matter of pesticides, which have been popping up in headlines around the state more and more.

You’ll note in this issue, for example, the Department of Agriculture is taking additional steps to protect bees and other pollinators from exposure to specific pesticide products following multiple incidents of bee deaths this summer. In adopting a temporary rule, ODA is prohibiting the use of pesticide products containing the active ingredients dinotefuran and imidacloprid on linden trees or other species of Tilia.

Then there were the reports out of Eugene contending that trees which were treated with certain types of chemicals (mainly with the idea of protection against pests) sprayed on to trees could do harm to bee populations in the areas where the trees were replanted.

What seems to be changing about some of this, and is taking the issue more directly political, is the distribution element. Some groups of people long have been critics of various types of chemicals or bioengineering, but those complaints were not likely to become a big political deal as long as the people (and plants, and animals) affected by them were only those already inside a system of mutual agreement – contracting partners of some type. When wind can blow the substances elsewhere, making non-participants unwitting and unwilling participants, a totally new legal element has been introduced.

A new set of standards will be needed to cope with this. It may be coming soon.

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Oregon Oregon column

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Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Minnick pursues tax cases over land donation (Boise Statesman)
Simpson backs keeping Dubois sheep station (IF Post Register)
State transportation holds off 80 mph speeds (IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News, Pocatello Journal)
Payette forest rescinds gold mine permit (Lewiston Tribune)
Vaccination exemption rate high in Whitman County (Moscow News)
Backgrounding Idaho’s concealed carry law (Moscow News)
Colleges change rules on textbook purchases (Nampa Press Tribune)
Results unchanged in same sex bias Pocatello ballot (Pocatello Journal)
Water resources sets plan for Rangen water call (TF Times News)
Reviewing noxious weed control in Magic Valley (TF Times News)

ODOT tries dodging I-5 trouble at Drain (Eugene Register Guard)
Groundbreaking on Eugene veteran center (Eugene Register Guard)
Shutoff notices issued to some in Klamath (KF Herald & News)
Mercury possible in Applegate Lake fish (Ashland Tidings)
Kitzhaber at Pendleton round table (Pendleton E Oregonian)
ConAgra Lamb Weston expands at Boardman (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Attack on secretary state web site from Asia (Portland Oregonian)
PERS court battle continues (Salem Statesman Journal)

ConAgra expands Boardman plant, fries line (Kennewick Herald)
Columbia Reach center opens at Richland (Kennewick Herald)
Army may cut 16,000 at Lewis-McChord (Longview News)
WA adoptees get more access to birth records (Seattle Times)
Bee specialists hopeful of rebound (Seattle Times)
Tacoma Narrows bridge toll rises again (Tacoma News Tribune)
SW Washington rail still below normal (Vancouver Columbian)
Derailment of rail tank carrying asphalt (Vancouver Columbian)
Union Gap pays nearly $1m to former employee (Yakima Herald Republic)

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