GMO task force as divided as rest of state when it comes to genetically engineered crops

A task force studying the challenges of raising genetically engineered crops in Oregon has ended up as divided as the rest of the state on the issue.

The 15-member group, in issuing a draft reportafter seven months of work, found some common ground when it comes to GE crops, but indicated that a number of steep divides remain, as well.

Task force members, appointed by Gov. John Kitzhaber in April, include a handful of farmers, Oregon State University scientists, food processors, and a representative from the Oregon Seed Association.

Their 27-page draft report comes less than two weeks before Oregon voters decide the fate ofMeasure 92, which if approved would require labeling of all foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

The measure has drawn national attention and already has set a record for total spending on an Oregon ballot measure.

The task force, in the opening sentences of its report, mentioned the controversy that continues to surround the issue.

However, the report also make clear that the group’s goal was never to come up with definitive answers. Instead, its charge from the governor was to identify the main obstacles separating those growing GE crops and other farmers; identify areas of agreement and disagreement when it comes to GE crops; and, identify how other jurisdictions both nationally and internationally have dealt with genetically modified crops.

Some over-arching themes contained in the report include the finding that GE-related issues are “polarizing and common ground is hard to find”; that there is no consensus on issues of liability and compensation for losses stemming from GE crops; and, that the controversy often boils down to “a consumer’s right to know versus a farmer’s right to grow. ”

Other topic areas addressed by the task force included cross-pollination and drift, food safety, certification and labeling, and ethics and values.

A final report is expected to be released soon.

The original article published on Oregon Live can be found here. 


Experience key to Vista Seed Partners

Mom, daughters say the time was right to jump into business

SHEDD — Christie McDowell and her daughters did a little “soul searching” before they decided that the opportunity was right for them to start a business.

Together, Christie and daughters Mandi Mack and Marissa McDowell decided to trust their skills and take the leap to open Vista Seed Partners in Shedd. They will be supplying custom and proprietary turf grass and forage products to customers across the country.

“It was the opportune time,” Christie said. “We have the experience.”

Christie has been an executive in the seed industry for 30 years, has served as president of the Oregon Seed Association (only the second woman to hold that post) and is active in numerous state and national seed organizations.

Her daughters combine for another 20-plus years in the industry.

“We’ve been through the changes and we believe the seed industry is improving,” Christie said. “The timing was right for us.”

Three women running a seed company isn’t very common. But Christie says their experience opens plenty of doors.

“It’s a little unusual,” Marissa said. “We were all born and raised right here, though, and people are more interested in the fact that we know the business. They want a reliable partner who can help them grow their product. We’re very service oriented.”

The company opened its doors Sept. 8 at 30140 Highway 99E, at the edge of Shedd. It is in the same building the housed Willamette Seed for many years.

The new owners went to work remodeling the 1,700-square-foot interior, gutting most of it and making it a home for their business. Construction is still in progress, but should be complete in another week.

“We have been moving around inside while it is getting finished,” said Marissa, who is involved mostly in the sales end of the company.

All three work in sales, with Christie in charge of production and purchasing and Mandi involved in the marketing end.

There are seven full-time employees who make up the technical team. Jerry Pepin, turf specialist, who is a leading expert on trufgrass breeding, Christie said. He will provide customer counseling and lead product development.

The company didn’t waste time getting down to business. It has been selling and shipping seeds since day one of business.

“We have good relationships with local farmers and warehouses,” Christie said. “Our warehouses are located here in Shedd and Tangent.”

The location has helped in getting Vista established. It’s easily accessible from either direction on 99E.

Although open only a month, business has been steady, according to Christie. She said they have created long-term partnerships with growers and distributors.

“So far things have pleasantly surprised us,” Christie said. “Between the three of us, we don’t rely on regional sales. We follow the relationship no matter where it may be across the country.”

Information on Vista Seed Partners, which has operating hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, is available on the company website at or by calling 800-975-6939.

The original article published on the Albany-Democrat Herald can be found here

CHS and Thomas Ag Services launch seed distribution and private label seed program

TANGENT, ORE.; Oct. 21, 2014 – CHS Inc., leading U.S. farmer-owned cooperative and a global agriculture and energy business, and Thomas Ag Services, LLC, today announce an agreement to develop a new CHS private label and commodity seed program for CHS retail service centers.

The program will benefit from the production, marketing and agronomic services of Thomas Ag Services combined with the production, blending, packaging, distribution and agronomic services of CHS in Tangent, Ore. It will offer CHS locations and other ag retailers a diverse line of private-label seed products and commodity seed including forage, cover crop, turf, wildlife food plot and native grasses. The products will be supported by regional product specialists and promoted through print and digital marketing.

Suppliers, including growers, currently working with CHS and Thomas Ag Services are expected to benefit from the additional value of this private label program.

“We’re excited to be able to offer these quality products and services through the CHS system, while adding value for the farmers we serve,” said Kevin Rogers, General Manager, Madras-based retail location of CHS. “Cooperatives and their producers are always looking for a more cost-effective and reliable supply of seed products.”

“The timing of this program couldn’t be better with tighter supplies of quality seed mixtures, especially in forage and cover crop,” said Mike Thomas, CEO, Thomas Ag Services.  “Our team is excited and prepared to support a successful CHS distributor operations and private label seed program.”

About Thomas Ag Services
Thomas Ag Services, LLC ( is a leading seed production, marketing, procurement, and agronomic consulting and services company. Thomas Ag Services works with companies of all sizes, farmer producers, plant breeders, production companies, distributors, and retailers to help them reach their business goals.

About CHS
CHS Inc. ( is a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States. Diversified in energy, grains and foods, CHS is committed to helping its customers, farmer-owners and other stakeholders grow their businesses through its domestic and global operations. CHS, a Fortune 100 company, supplies energy, crop nutrients, grain marketing services, animal feed, food and food ingredients, along with business solutions including insurance, financial and risk management services. The company operates petroleum refineries/pipelines and manufactures, markets and distributes Cenex® brand refined fuels, lubricants, propane and renewable energy products.

See the full press release here.

Pennington Seed Becomes the Official Lawn Care Company of The New York Yankees

The iconic team will utilize the portfolio of Pennington grass seed products to maintain the field at Yankee Stadium starting in the 2014 season.

MADISON, Ga., April 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — To mark the beginning of the 2014 baseball season
and to kickoff the spring growing season, Pennington Seed, Inc., today announced it has finalized an
agreement to become the official lawn care company of the New York Yankees. As part of the multi-
year partnership, Pennington will develop and provide a portfolio of grass seed products to support
the unique aesthetic, functional and maintenance needs of the iconic field at Yankee Stadium.

The New York Yankees sought Pennington to address the rigorous demands and continuous wear placed on their field. The Yankees grounds crew selected Pennington grass seed for its best-in-class aesthetic appeal and durability, as well as for its ease of maintenance. In addition, the partnership includes field days for professionals and local in-store promotions.

“We’re proud that the dedicated turf professionals of Yankee Stadium and the New York Yankees turned to Pennington to deliver the highest quality seed for their field,” said Jeff Crow, vice president of marketing at Central Garden & Pet Company, the parent company of Pennington Seed. “Whether being used to maintain the field at Yankee Stadium or to repair or establish your own yard, Pennington products are designed to establish thicker, fuller grass that can withstand the rigors of regular use, while using up to 30 percent less water versus ordinary seed.”

From 81 home games to concerts and other events, the multi-function field at Yankee Stadium is continuously used throughout the year.

“We are very excited to begin a relationship with Pennington. We hope that utilizing Pennington grass seed products at Yankee Stadium, along with the in-Stadium signage, expands its brand awareness,” said Michael J. Tusiani, New York Yankees Senior Vice President of Corporate Sales and Sponsorships.

Pennington offers a variety of grass seed mixes and blends to suit the needs of every homeowner. Pennington grass seed is available at home improvement stores and select independent retailers nationwide, including throughout the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. For additional information about Pennington Seed, please visit or go

About Pennington Seed
Founded in 1945 by Brooks Pennington, Sr., Pennington Seed, Inc. had humble beginnings as a small feed and seed store located in Madison, Ga., where the company is still headquartered today. Since the company’s founding, Pennington Seed has grown into one of the largest manufacturers, producers and distributors of lawn & garden and turf care products in the world, with state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, observation nurseries and quality control labs located across the country.

Pennington Seed is owned by the Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Central Garden & Pet Company (Nasdaq: CENT, CENTA), a leading innovator, marketer and producer of quality branded products for the lawn & garden and pet supply markets. To learn more about Pennington Seed, For additional information on Central Garden & Pet Company, including access to the Company’s SEC filings, visit

The original article published on Yahoo can be found here. 

OSU Department of Crop and Soil Science gets new leader


Jay Noller, shown outside the Oregon State University Crop Science Building, has been selected as the new head of university’s Department of Crop and Soil Science. Noller has been with the department since 2000 and has served as an associate head of the department since 2008. Jay Noller has been chosen to lead Oregon State University’s Department of Crop and Soil Science. He has been at the university since 2000.

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University has selected a long-time College of Agricultural Sciences soils professor to head its Department of Crop and Soil Science.

Jay Noller, 55, replaces Russ Karow, who is retiring after 14 years in the position.

Noller, who served as associated head of the department for the past six years, said he is embracing the opportunity to administer on a full-time basis.

“This is where my personal energy was going,” Noller said, “just facilitating my colleagues. Now I get to do it full time.

“I see this as an opportunity to lift a heavy load for my colleagues, because I am thrilled with what they are doing,” he said.

Noller has been at OSU since 2000 and a full professor since 2012. He started in his new position Oct. 1.

Noller’s background includes a five-year stint as a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a second five-year stint as co-founder of William Lettis and Associates, now Fugro Worldwide, a firm specializing in geoscience services.

Noller also spent four year as an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and was a teaching assistant at the University at Colorado in Boulder, where he obtained his Ph.D.

He obtained his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from California State University in Los Angeles, both also in geology.

His research has been focused primarily on the long-term effects of human interaction with soil. He recently had a two volume book published looking at paleo agricultural systems in the Eastern Mediterranean with a central question of how long humans can farm a plot of land.

“In the places I’ve looked at, like in Syria, it’s been 15,000 years that people are still cropping the same field, the same plot of land, and (that land) is not too unlike our soils that we have in places around Oregon. So I am very optimistic about Oregon agriculture.”

Noller was chosen from a field of on- and off-campus candidates by a selection committee that included stakeholders and faculty and staff.

“Jay has tremendous experience with Oregon State University,” College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Dan Arp said. “He knows the university well, he knows the college well, and, most importantly, knows the department well.

“He also has strong scholarly interests and accomplishments that are important to the department and bring important strengths to the position,” Arp said.

Arp said the selection committee did not consider Noller’s lack of direct experience in extension as a liability.

“Jay understands the importance of all the pieces of the mission of the college, from the education mission to the research mission and the extension, outreach and engagement mission,” Arp said.

“He has a good understanding of all of those pieces and how they fit together and how they integrate across the department’s mission,” Arp said.

The original article published on Capital Press can be found here.