Measure 15-119

Local farmers speak out on commission report

Jackson County OregonFarmers, community members and GMO-free activists filled the Jackson County Commissioners meeting on March 19th to demand the commission retract cost claims made for ballot measure 15-119, a measure restricting the growing of Genetically Engineered crops in the Rogue Valley.

According to a report by County Administrator Danny Jordan, enforcement of the measure could cost the county a minimum of $219,000 per year.  According to Jordan, enforcement of the measure would require a full-time code inspector, time dedicated from a hearings officer, a contractor for testing and other county resources,

GMO free activists counter that argument, saying there is nothing in the ballot measure that would make it mandatory for the county to enforce the law.

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Small family farm fights big agribusiness corporation

by Gregg Marchese

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In mid-February, residents of Singing Bird Family Farm west of Grants Pass discovered an adjacent 35 acre field had been planted with genetically engineered sugar beets. Syngenta is a multi-national chemical corporation overseeing the growing of genetically engineered sugar beets for seed in both Jackson and Josephine Counties. Singing Bird residents Ted Talk and Lynn Colley-Talk have been on their family farm raising bees and selling honey and other bee products for 6 years, and the property has been in the family for 28 years. Ted was born and raised in the area, a resident for 50 years.

The incident started when Ted and Lynn noticed busloads of workers driving through the right-of-way to the neighboring field. This 35 acre field is up against the Applegate River, upstream from the confluence with the Rogue. It is owned by a neighboring family. The land is leased to Syngenta to grow genetically engineered sugar beets for seed, and another operator was hired to do the actual on-the-ground work. The workers were coming in to tend the field.

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Oregon Legislature passes “Oregon’s Monsanto Protection Act”

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Hundreds rally in Medford March for Food Freedom.
Photo credit GMO Free Jackson County

To the dismay of many organic and environmental groups, a controversial agriculture bill that prevents counties in Oregon from regulating genetically modified (GM) crops has been signed into law. Senate Bill 863, the ”Certainty for Family Farmers of Oregon Act”, prohibits local county or city regulation of genetically modified plants and prevents local governments from enacting or enforcing any measures which regulate agricultural, flower, nursery and vegetable seeds or their products.

The bill precludes current efforts in Oregon counties to restrict GM agriculture, but excludes Jackson County, which already has a GM ban up for vote The bill also includes an emergency clause, which allows the bill to go into effect immediately, precluding opponents from referring the bill to voters.

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GMO Free movement makes headway

An initiative to ban the cultivation of genetically modified (GMO) crops in Jackson County will be on the May 2014 ballot as Measure 15-119. Organizers of GMO-Free Jackson County submitted over 6,500 petition signatures from residents who support the measure.

The GMO-Free Jackson County campaign was started by Rogue Valley farmers who are concerned that their crops are being contaminated by GMOs. Genetically modified crops cross-pollinate with locally grown organic crops. Advocates of the initiative say it is necessary to protect organic farmers, backyard gardens, and local food choices. [Read more…]