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Farmers organize to support Jackson County GMO ban

Local farmers have united against what they perceive as the growing threat from genetically modified crops contaminating surrounding fields.

"Our livelihood is at stake," said Mary Alionis, who owns Whistling Duck Farms in the Applegate with her husband, Vince. The Alionis family and other farmers threw their support behind Ballot Measure 15-119, which asks voters to restricts GMOs in Jackson County in the November election.

More than a dozen farmers gathered at Fry Family Farm's fields in north Medford off Ross Lane to talk about the economic dangers from genetically modified plants such as sugar beets from giant multinational companies including Monsanto and Syngenta AG.

Farmers have been forced to destroy seed crops because pollen from GMO fields have contaminated organic seed crops. In addition, the GMO sugar beets, which are Roundup resistant, require lots of herbicides, which also contaminate surrounding fields, the farmers say.

A political action committee, Our Family Farms Coalition, has been formed by the farmer to help support the ballot measure.

— Damian Mann