SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's Willamette Valley is off limits to canola crops, to protect farmers growing seeds for organic vegetables from having their crops contaminated by canola pollen, pests and diseases.
But demand for renewable energy has helped fuel a push to start farming canola, which can be pressed to extract oil for food or renewable energy. A proposal to loosen the canola ban has raised a tense conflict between producers of organic foods and renewable energy in a state that cherishes both.
Farmers who grow seeds for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and a variety of other vegetables known as brassicas fear that expanded canola production would destroy their industry by bringing new pests and diseases.
Canola proponents insist all brassicas can coexist if they're carefully managed.