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Green Briefs

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT  - Dametris Harrison floats along side swimmers near Water Front Park, a section of the Willamette River that may soon become a recreational beach area.
Jump into the Willamette

Want to join the “Riverlution” to support opening up access to the Willamette River in downtown Portland?

Here’s an enjoyable way to do it while lying down — on an inner tube.

The Big Float, a mass crossing of the Willamette, takes place July 27. The fourth-annual event features an inner tube parade, live music, paddlers parade, contests and a party. Your $9 registration fee supports the Human Access Project and its campaign to create accessible beaches on the Willamette River in the central city, among other projects.

“The Big Float is the world’s laziest revolution,” says Willie Levenson, ringleader for the Human Access Project.

For more information: www.thebigfloat.com.

EcoFilm shorts

The Portland EcoFilm Festival continues Thursday, July 24, with a series of Eco Shorts at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd. in Portland.

The short films include: “The Lost Fish— the Struggle to Save Pacific Lamprey;” “Backyard,” a documentary about fracking and its effects on five peoples’ lies in Pennsylvania, Colorado, North Dakota and Montana; “Gregg Treinish, a Moveshake Story,” about a conservationist named Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic magazine; “Brooklyn Farmer,” about the Brooklyn Grange’s efforts to do urban farming in New York City.

The program begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information, to get links to movie trailers and to reserve seats: http://hollywoodtheatre.org/ecofilm.

GMO labeling measure widely popular, for now

Early polling shows strong support for a potential measure on Oregon’s November ballot that would require the labeling of genetically engineered foods.

A new poll by DHM Research found 77 percent of likely voters support labeling foods with GMOs.

DHM Research Director John Horvick said similarly overwhelming support was found in Washington and Idaho during their three-state poll. The survey found 69-percent support among Washington residents — in contrast to the 45-percent support in the November, 2013 election, when a similar measure was defeated in that state.

The same pattern — strong support at the start of the campaign — played out in 2012 with California’s food-labeling measure, which eventually lost.

“We now have two states — Washington last year and California the year before — where they saw polling numbers like this, not that far before an election, and then saw things change quickly,” Horvick said.

Horvick said a well-funded anti-labeling campaign largely influenced the election outcome in those two states. Some big-name national contributors included biotech firms Monsanto and Syngenta.

Advocates submitted 107,835 petition signatures to qualify the initiative. State elections officials have until Aug. 2 to determine if there are 87,213 valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

— Devan Schultz, EarthFix

Out-of-state groups boost GMO labeling plan

Out-of-state groups raised almost 75 percent of the nearly $1.2 million raised to gather signatures for an Oregon ballot initiative requiring labels on GMOs.

The largest out-of-state donors were: osteopathic physician Joseph Mercola of Hoffman Estates, Ill., $350,000; Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Vista, Calif., $250,000; Organic Consumers Fund, the political arm of the Organic Consumers Association, Finland, Minn., $100,000; Clif Bar and Co., Emeryville, Calif., $100,000; Center for Food Safety Action Fund, Washington, D.C., $25,000; Applegate, a producer of natural and organic meats, Bridgewater, N.J., $15,000; Wehah Farm Inc. (Lundberg Family Farms), Richvale, Calif., $15,000.

The largest in-state contributions came from the Committee for Oregon’s Right to Know, $92,697; Karen Swift of Portland, cofounder of Biosafety Alliance, $75,000; and So Delicious Dairy Free, Eugene, $25,000.

Oregon voters rejected a 2002 measure to require labeling of GMOs in food. Voters also did so in California in 2012, and Washington in 2013, but only after campaign spending of $46 million and $22 million.

— Peter Wong

Public can track oil trains passing nearby

Members of the public can now learn more about trains running through their community or neighborhood that are laden with crude oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota.

ForestEthics, a San Francisco-based advocacy group, produced an interactive map that allows users to pinpoint if they live, work or hang out in the “blast zone” that could be vulnerable to oil train accidents. The Blast Zone mapping tool is available at www.Blast-Zone.org.

Type in an address to see if it’s near the red zone, a band within a half-mile of the rail line that might be evacuated if there’s an oil train derailment, or a yellow zone, a mile within the rail line that also may be impacted.

Bakken oil is more volatile than other oil, and derailments have caused severe explosions and fires in several communities. There also are serious safety questions about the rail cars used to ship the oil.

In addition, the Oregon State Fire Marshal has begun posting reports from railroad companies about their shipments through the state, at www.oregon.gov/osp/SFM/Pages/SERC/CrudeOilReports.aspx.

The reports are now required for rail companies that carry at least 1 million gallons or more of Bakken crude oil on a single train.