We can feed the world!  We can poison the world!  Those are the approximate extremes of the arguments in favor of, and in opposition to, the use of genetic modifications in food crops. 

McKay Jenkins, journalist and journalism professor, sought to find the true pros and cons of GMOs.  The fruit of his research is the book Food Fight: GMOs and the Future of the American Diet

The analysis points to some issues with the American food system that pre-date the GMO controversy. 

Anti-GMO Forces Seek Legislative Help

Feb 16, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

Jackson County is that rarest of Oregon counties, the only one that has banned the growing of genetically modified (GMO) crops. 

It took a vote by the people and action by the legislature to make it happen. 

Now anti-GMO farmers and their supporters want the legislature to allow more GMO-free zones. 

House bill 2469 is the mechanism; anti-GMO campaigner Elise Higley is firmly behind it. 

GMOs From Both Sides Now

Feb 6, 2017

Isn't there just ONE thing you'd like to see changed in our food through genetic engineering?  For a lot of people, the answer is a resounding NO. 

It is a selling point to be GMO-free.  But GMO true believers stick by their (gene) guns. 

Environmental journalist McKay Jenkins visited with them and a lot of people on both sides for his book Food Fight: GMOs and the Future of the American Diet. 

Author Backs Into Exploration Of GMO Corn

Sep 20, 2016
Wikimedia Commons

Caitlin Shetterly certainly knew that GMO crops existed.  But she had not intended to write about them. 

Until her health, and her son's, began to suffer.  She says the health issues trace back to the consumption of GMO corn, which is nearly ubiquitous in the American food supply and extends to non-food products, too. 

Shetterly writes of her experience and her broader findings in her just-released book Modified

Results from the Oregon Primary will be up for discussion on this week's VENTSday.  We'll also talk about a past election: Josephine County voters adopted a GMO crop ban, and a court just nixed it. 

So WHO should regulate GMO crops? 

Listeners take stage on our weekly VENTSday segment, a chance to vent on a couple of topics in the news--by phone, by email, or through our online survey. We provide the topics, you provide the opinions.

No expertise necessary; just opinions and the ability to express them in a radio-friendly way. We post our weekly survey on one or both of the topics in advance.

How To Assert Community Rights

Dec 17, 2015

Plenty of people walk around thinking that corporations and people with lots of money call all the shots economically and politically. 

Some, like believers in "community rights," work to counteract the power of corporations and their owners. 

Community Rights Lane County is one such group, urging people within Lane County to exercise their rights to determine local policies. 


Farmers challenging a Southern Oregon county’s voter-approved ban on genetically engineered crops have agreed to settle. If approved by the court, Oregon’s first countywide ban will have cleared a final legal hurdle.

The Fate Of Josephine County's GMO Ban

Nov 30, 2015

Officially, Jackson County is the only county in all of Oregon allowed to pass an ordinance banning GMO crops, which it did. 

But the same election featured a very similar vote in Josephine County, and that also passed. 

Supporters of the ordinance are not giving up on implementing it, and they've taken the issue to court.

Vandana Shiva On GMO Resistance

Oct 12, 2015

Dr. Vandana Shiva is a heroine to many people who want purity and simplicity in agriculture, and a lightning rod for controversy because of it. 

Shiva, who is scientist, activist, environmentalist and more, rejects the idea of genetically engineered crops and corporate-patented seeds. 

She visits Ashland this week (Oct. 14) to talk about food security, organic farming and more. 

The GMO Bill In Congress: Does It, Or Not?

Aug 3, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

The letters G, M, and O aren't even words, but they've certainly become fighting words.

Witness the U.S. House of Representatives' recent passage of HR 1599. 

Officially, it's the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015," a move to prevent states from passing their own genetically modified (GMO) food labeling laws. 

Which is why anti-GMO groups call it "the DARK Act"--for "Deny Americans the Right to Know"--and some other names we won't print. 

One of the most-debated provisions concerns local bans on GMO crops, as in Jackson County. 

Would the bill prohibit those or not?  We hear both opinions in this hour... Gail Greenman from the Oregon Farm Bureau says there's no such provision. 

She'll be followed by George Kimbrell at the Center for Food Safety, who says there is. 

Wikimedia Commons

A federal judge's decision Friday leaves Jackson County's ban on genetically engineered crops (GMO) on the books, due to take effect June 5th.

Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke's decision, released Friday afternoon, rejects an attempt by the law's opponents to block it under Oregon's "Right to Farm" law.

OSU Ag Dean Talks GMO Science

May 21, 2015

Jackson County's ban on GMO crops is set to take effect on June 6th, unless the federal judge hearing a suit against it blocks it.

Another vote on a GMO ban, in Benton County (Corvallis), failed this week, by a wide margin.  Benton County is home to Oregon State University, which performs research on GMO crops.

And OSU's agriculture dean, Dr. Dan Arp, sat on a task force reporting on GMO agriculture just last year.

GMO Court Case From The NO-GMO Side

May 20, 2015
Charlotte Duren/JPR News

Genetically modified crops--universally called GMO--are not going away, and neither is the controversy over them. 

Industry and many regulatory bodies insist they are safe, but many consumers and activists want them tightly controlled, if used at all. 

Jackson County passed a ban on growing GMO crops in May of 2014, the only binding local measure in Oregon.  That measure is set to take effect on June 6th, but first it has to clear a court challenge. 

Our Family Farms Coalition pushed for the measure. 

Wikimedia Commons

Last spring, voters in two southern Oregon counties passed measures to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered crops.  Now, Oregon voters statewide are being asked to approve a measure to require genetically engineered foods to be labeled.

As with the similar, unsuccessful ballot measures in Washington and California, lots of out-of-state money is flooding into the campaigns on both sides.

What It Means To Be Labeled "Organic"

Sep 5, 2014
Lyons Press

Oregon voters will get another crack at GMO labeling in the November election. 

A measure on the ballot would require labeling for genetically engineered foods. 

But let's drop back a bit and consider food labels in a more general sense: what do the labels tell us?  For example, what does it really mean when you see "organic" slapped on a product in the store? 

Longtime journalist and University of Oregon professor Peter Laufer went in search of the answer to that particular question. 

Mapping GMO and Non-GMO Crops

Jun 30, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

Jackson County voters decided to ban GMO crops in the county, but that is far from the end of the issue. 

Genetically modified crops are still the focus of great debate. 

The state of Oregon is considering moves to map GMO and non-GMO crops, to better keep them apart. 


Recent financial reports indicate that the people in opposition to Jackson County's anti-GMO crop measure have the money advantage, and much of the money comes from other states. 

But the anti-GMO (so PRO measure) forces have their own friends in other places. 

Those include the people of the Biosafety Alliance, who work on GMO and other issues. 

The Case Against A Jackson County GMO Ban

Mar 12, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

Jackson County is the only county in Oregon to hold its own vote on whether to ban genetically modified (GMO) crops. 

And it will likely be the last, since the Oregon legislature banned further local votes.  But measure 15-119 is an interesting test case. 

Gearing Up To Fight GMO In Jackson County

Mar 5, 2014
João Felipe C.S./Public Domain

The election is more than two months away, but the debate over GMO crops in Jackson County started a long time ago. 

The May primary election will feature Ballot Measure 15-119, which would ban the growing of genetically engineered crops in Jackson County if it passed. 

GMO Perspective Straight From The Farm

Jan 24, 2014
João Felipe C.S./Public Domain

CORRECTED event info below...

Howard Vlieger lives on the Iowa farm where he was born and raised. 

But his worldview extends far beyond the fields.