Fight over canola pits biofuels vs. organics

Fight over canola pits biofuels vs. organics

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

The sun shines down on a field of canola plants in Gaiberg near Heidelberg, southwestern Germany, on April 19, 2011. Temperatures in Germany continue to rise in to the twenties promising a warm and sunny Easter weekend. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND (Photo credit should read DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images)

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Associated Press

Posted on September 27, 2012 at 5:59 AM

Updated Thursday, Sep 27 at 1:24 PM

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.

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