What do alfalfa fields in the Mid Columbia have to do with the price of tea in China? A lot, and it's got Rep. Dan Newhouse in a dither.

GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) are any kind of agriculture that has genes modified to be resistant to drought, disease, pesticide, or to grow faster or bigger.

The problem with zero-tolerance of GMOs is it's hard to control. If some crops get mixed a little in transportation, or if a bee spreads pollen from one field to another, it can result in trace amounts.

The other problem is the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has found absolutely nothing wrong with GMO products. So farmers must follow strict guidelines to make China happy that don't make any sense to American scientists.

But advocates of a GMO labeling law that failed in Washington a few years ago are likely watching the farmers rage with mixed feelings. They wanted the products kept separate from the beginning.

Considering the Mid Columbia's economy is mostly tied to agriculture now, and less so on Hanford and PNNL, a huge loss in profits could hurt everyone.

Maciej Maksymowicz
Maciej Maksymowicz

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