● Biotechnology continues to be a contentious issue. Of note is a concentrated effort afoot by the Center for Food Safety and other advocacy organizations toward convincing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require consumer labeling of genetically engineered food. On March 12, a letter signed by fifty-five members of Congress was sent to the commissioner of FDA supporting such a labeling requirement. Those from the Pacific Northwest signing the letter: Senators Ron Wyden (D/Oregon) and Jeff Merkley (D/Oregon), along with Representatives Jim McDermott (D/Washington), Peter DeFazio (D/Oregon), and Earl Blumenauer (D/Oregon).

● The Northwest Horticultural Council is a member of many groups that organize special annual trips to Washington, D.C. As an example, on May 8 and 9, a team drawn from commercial business, port, and agricultural members of the Washington Council on International Trade, based in Seattle, is scheduled to visit Congressional offices and the Administration’s trade policy officials. The NHC, a member of WCIT, will be represented by Mark Powers on this foray to promote federal policies aimed at increasing our region’s exports.

●  Where are they now? Walt Minnick (D), who served one term in Congress from Idaho’s 1st District and then was defeated in 2010, remains in Washington, D.C., and is a cofounder of the small lobbying firm The Majority Group.

●  The National Cherry Blossom Festival is being held in Washington, D.C., from March 20 to April 27. In 1912, 3,020 flowering cherry trees were given in friendship by Japan to the United States and now they and their replacements are scattered around the Mall and Tidal Basin. Interestingly, a first shipment of trees in late 1909, which had arrived in Washington, D.C., via Seattle, were destroyed by the Department of Agriculture because they were infested with insects and nematodes.

POLITICAL FRUIT: “Leave It to Washington to Upset the Market’s Apple Cart”—Headline for article on the nation’s fiscal and budgetary situation from The Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2012.