Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) released a report today that details variety trial results for purple sprouting broccoli grown in Oregon and Washington. Purple sprouting broccoli is an ideal crop for winter food production in the Pacific Northwest, and is gaining popularity as a produce item distinct from traditional broccoli. The project is a collaboration with Oregon State University, Washington State University, and Organically Grown Company.
Purple sprouting broccoli is planted in the summer and then overwinters, providing a harvest in the late winter and early spring, typically February or March, at a time when little diversity in fresh produce is available in the region and storage crops are waning.
This is the first multi-state variety trial to focus on how different varieties perform in organic production systems. Currently the lack of organic seed options and data on how different varieties perform is a barrier to expanding the availability and production of this nutritious crop. This project aims to fill these gaps, while encouraging growers to extend their growing season and add economic value to their farm.
It’s hard to believe that summer is upon us. As you watch the growing season unfold, do me a favor and ask yourself a question: What do I wish I knew right now about seed production, plant breeding, or the politics of seed? Regardless of what you call yourself — a seed producer, plant breeder, student, organic certifier, food processor, or policy advocate — OSA wants to know your answer to this question, which will inform our next Organic Seed Growers Conference happening February 4-6, 2016. Our call for input and proposals is open through July 15, so please tell us what you’d like to see on the agenda. Your ideas help to grow this seed stewardship movement.
Read the full summer newsletter here.
The USDA announced in March that it was ditching a 2008 proposal that would have updated its regulations for genetically engineered (GE) crops. Following the announcement, the department initiated a new public comment period that we hope will lead to new and better regulations. The USDA continues to regulate GE crops under outdated regulations that don’t adequately protect farmers, the public, and the environment from the negative impacts of GE crops.
Submit comments today. The deadline is June 22.
Quick background: The USDA is one of three agencies that regulate GE crops (along with the EPA and FDA). When these engineered crops landed in our fields and grocery aisles, the U.S. government chose to rely on a patchwork of existing laws, some of which predate the technology, instead of creating a new law to oversee biotechnology. This resulted in a mishmash of agency interpretations for regulating GE organisms. This patchwork approach has left holes: the absence of mandated contamination prevention practices, post-market monitoring, and a mechanism for compensating those harmed by contamination, to name a few. Lacking a robust regulatory framework, the organic and broader non-GE community has shouldered the costly burden of trying to protect their seed, crops, and markets from GE material, and dealing with contamination when it happens.
You can help! Submit comments today, and tell the USDA to develop new regulations that protect farmers, the public, and the environment.
Organic Seed Alliance invites you to help shape the 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference by providing proposals for content. This is your opportunity to share important research and ask timely questions related to organic seed. The conference will be held February 4-6, 2016, in Corvallis, OR, and is the only event that brings together diverse members of the organic seed community in two days of presentations and networking events focused solely on organic seed. We welcome your proposals for presentations, workshops, posters, panels, and roundtables.
Learn more and submit your conference proposal here.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is hosting a series of webinars to collect feedback on specific questions (see below) to inform how products of agricultural biotechnology – i.e., genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – should be regulated. Each of the following webinars will be the same, and are scheduled at the following times:
Wednesday, May 6, 6-9 pm EDT
Tuesday, May 12, 5-8 pm EDT
Wednesday, May 20, 4-7 pm EDT
Can’t make any of the webinars? You can provide written comments through June 22, 2015, at this link.