Citizens Initiative Review panel's findings on GMO ballot measure
Following are the key findings on Measure 15-119 — which would ban genetically modified crops in Jackson County — from a Citizens Initiative Review panel moderated by Healthy Democracy Oregon.
- 15-119 prohibits growing of genetically engineered crops in Jackson County. It protects family farmers from serious risk that their crops will be contaminated by genetically engineered crop pollen that is patented and controlled by large out-of-state chemical corporations.
- It is a violation of federal patent law for any farmer to save and plant or sell a seed that was produced from genetically engineered pollen, even if that pollen drifts onto the farmer's field. This undermines a farmer's ability to save seeds to use for the next year's crops or sell the seeds on the lucrative commercial seed market.
- Any seed produced from genetically engineered pollen is considered legally patented and controlled by the chemical corporation that owns the patent on that crop.
- This is a long-term public policy decision with impacts for every citizen of this county.
- The Family Farms Measure 15-119 was proposed after family farmers were being forced to destroy seed crops after learning that a multinational chemical company had planted genetically engineered sugar beets near their fields.
- There's no practical way to stop genetically engineered pollen and seed from trespassing onto traditional farms because there's no way to stop the wind and other sources of pollen transport.
- 15-119 gives the county and farmers "the authority to enforce" the measure but doesn't require any minimum level of enforcement. The county has full discretion on whether it will enforce the measure. In other counties that have had similar measures in place, there have been neither violations nor enforcement costs.
- The measure will be implemented by Jackson County Board of Commissioners and administered and enforced by the county.
- Plaintiff will need to be able to document damages and prove conclusively that there was contamination. Sampling and testing may be required, but it would be the plaintiff's responsibility to fund such testing if needed. A defendant may have legal costs if they contest an enforcement action; and, if they are found to have violated the measure, they may face costs of crop destruction and lost value of sales. If a defendant challenged a county enforcement, the county could have legal costs in defending its action in the case.
- There is extensive misinformation on GMOs and their negative consequences. The large majority of mainstream science as seen in extensive literature and endorsements by major scientific and health societies and reports support the safety and value of available GMO crops and food; they do not support blanket acceptance nor rejection.
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