What they use on the farm

oregon
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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