J.R. Simplot Co.

A major Idaho agribusiness company is seeking federal approval to market a second genetically engineered potato. 

The J.R. Simplot Co. won approval for its first potato late last year. The Innate potato, as it’s branded, is due to be the first genetically engineered spud on the market -- a newcomer that just last month was the center of attention in a spot on comedy news program the Daily Show.

Simplot dubbed it “Innate” because the inserted genes come from other potatoes.

Another new case of bird flu has popped up in northern Washington state. This one is a hobby and 4-H program flock in Oroville, Washington, not far from the Canadian border.

Three new hot spots of bird flu have been found in wild ducks and domestic birds in Idaho.

Second Strain Of Avian Flu Arrives In Oregon

Jan 15, 2015
jlcummins / Flickr

Wildlife officials in Oregon say a mallard duck shot by a hunter near Eugene has tested positive for avian flu.

The strain of influenza is relatively common in Europe and Asia and has not caused any human sickness. The flu does not appear to cause illness in wild waterfowl, which have evolved with the virus. But it could kill falcons and hawks, as well as domesticated birds.

Oregon officials say they are not surprised this strain of avian flu has arrived in the state. Wild birds in Washington, California and Utah have also tested positive.

Several major markets for U.S. poultry products have shut down trade after discoveries of avian flu in the west -- including the Tri-Cities, Washington.

After several Northwest backyard flocks turned up with avian flu, U.S. egg and poultry exports are being banned around the world - in South Korea, South Africa and the European Union so far.

Idaho Potato Commission

Northwest potato farmers are cheering a small provision tucked into the newly passed federal spending package.

The Women, Infants, and Children or WIC program is the provider of modest monthly vouchers for a variety of foods. WIC will cover any vegetable, except for “white potatoes.”

That single exclusion outraged the potato industry. They felt it sent the wrong message and Northwest lawmakers from both parties got on board to reverse the rule.

USDA / Northwest News Network

Four environmental groups say they will sue the government to stop what they call the unlawful killing of wildlife in Idaho. They say tactics like shooting wolves from helicopters, blowing up beaver dams and spraying lethal chemicals in the wild have caused widespread damage.

The groups sent notice that they intend to sue the USDA's Wildlife Services program.

Travis Bruner heads the Hailey, Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project. It's one of the groups that joined the impending lawsuit.

The US Department of Agriculture says stalks of genetically modified wheat found in a field in Oregon look to be an isolated incident. In an announcement Friday the agency says its own tests confirm the suspect wheat carries modified genes designed by agribusiness giant Monsanto.

Northwest farmers appear relieved that the government is calling the discovery of genetically modified wheat “a single isolated incident in a single field on a single farm.”

Bluemoose / Wikimedia Commons

Japan has temporarily suspended white winter wheat purchases from the Pacific Northwest. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture announced the move in response to a report that U.S. regulators found genetically modified wheat on an Oregon farm.