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Opponents of proposed GMO ban speak out

Opponents of a measure intended to ban genetically modified crops in Jackson County gathered at noon today in Medford to help get their message out before next week's vote.

About 25 people attended the noon rally organized by Good Neighbor Farmers, which opposes the measure. Representatives from several statewide farm organizations, including the Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Seed Council and Oregon Women for Agriculture, voiced their opposition to the measure in front of the Jackson County offices.

Hundreds of ban supporters had picketed just down the block two hours earlier.

Measure 15-119 opponents say a ban on GMO crops could be a financial drain on the county because of added enforcement costs, and that it would infringe on private property rights of farmers.

"Our fundamental principals have focused on working together and not against one another," said Marie Bowers, legislative chair for Oregon Women for Agriculture. "This proposed ban clearly does not encourage that."

Measure opponent Marilyn Frink, who farms about 150 acres of GMO alfalfa in Sams Valley, said the ban would infringe on her property rights as a farmer.

"If this passes, it will put a lot of us out business," Frink said.

Supporters of the measure, which held their own rally at 10 a.m. at the corner of Eighth Street and Oakdale Avenue today, say the pollen from GMO fields can corrupt yields on neighboring organic farms, dealing economic blows to the organic industry. They also cite health reasons for wanting the ban because of the amount of pesticides used on GMO crops.

— Ryan Pfeil