Feast on this: The local + national scoop on GMOs

Feast Portland, the second annual city-wide celebration of Oregon’s bounty and Portland’s robust culinary culture, will be offering ticket holders a unique opportunity to take a deep dive into the broad issues brought to the table with GMOs in the food system.

Photo by John Valls
Photo by John Vall

Alongside tasting events, chef show-downs, and culinary classes, Feast organizers are hosting a speaker series covering topics from creating a thriving food business to ending childhood hunger. The panel “Transparency and GMOs: The More You Know the Better” will take place from 3-4:30 p.m. on Friday, September 20.

Panelists including David Steves of Earth Fix, Errol Schweizer of Whole Foods, and Arran Stephens of Nature’s Path will come together to talk about the wide-ranging implications of labeling and GMO laws as they relate to consumers and businesses. Delana Jones of Yes on 522 from Washington, the latest state to propose a ban or restriction on genetically engineered crops and foods, will also weigh in on the conversation. As of this writing, tickets are still available.

GMOs have been making headlines for decades, but national and state legislation is catching up. This year alone, 25 states are considering bills requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered organisms. Connecticut was the first to pass a bill, quickly followed by Maine and Vermont, and Washington State will vote on WA 522 this fall.

Already, 63 countries have mandatory labeling laws, in addition to bans or restrictions on genetically engineered crops and foods. Here at Ecotrust, we’re taking a look at GMOs close to home in the latest issue of Edible Portland.

In the Willamette Valley, specialty seed farmers have been steadily building a $50 million industry primarily based on brassica seeds, like broccoli and kale, exported to countries with GMO restrictions. In Spring 2013, the Oregon Department of Agriculture proposed expanding canola production in the Willamette Valley, which signaled a significant threat to these budding businesses: According to the FDA, 90 percent of all canola produced in the United States is genetically modified and, as a fellow brassica, canola readily crosses with its kin. Its presence in the valley would signal the end of an international revenue stream. In the magazine, we a take a look at these promiscuous plants and how their natural inclinations are driving the GMO conversation in Oregon.

Visit to see the full lineup of speakers and events for this year’s event, and pick up a copy of Edible Portland to learn more about those brazen brassicas and how their wiley ways are bringing GMO issues home.