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Phoenix Grange votes to support GMO ban

The Phoenix Grange voted unanimously this week to support GMO-Free Jackson County's efforts to ban genetically modified crops here.

Grange Master Linda Helm, a member of a farm family that goes back many generations, said she supports the ban because "a lot of small farmers are suffering" from their seeds acquiring genetically modified traits through air- or animal-borne pollen.

Because GMOs are patented, the farmers could be liable for payments to the corporate owner of the altered gene.

"My great-grandparents would roll over in their graves if they could see what's happened to our seed and food," she said.

There were about 15 grange members present for Tuesday's vote supporting a ballot measure banning GMOs. GMO-Free Jackson County must gather 4,662 signatures to put the measure on the ballot, though it's too late for the November election.

The Jackson County Farm Bureau opposes banning GMOs, saying such crops are pest- and herbicide-resistant and can reduce the use of pesticides. Farm Bureau spokesman Ron Bjork has said many local farmers are eager to plant Roundup-tolerant alfalfa in their fields because it will produce better crop yields.

Grange members had heard from an array of speakers on the subject in the past few months, said grange chaplain Jason Couch.

There was no debate on the resolution, but members had spoken about the issue in previous meetings, said Couch.

Couch said the same question will be voted on by the Pomona, or countwide grange, in September.

— John Darling