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Supporters of GMO crop ban gather in downtown Medford

In the final week before the May 20 primary election, hundreds of supporters of a measure that would ban genetically modified crops in Jackson County flocked to the corner of Eighth Street and Oakdale Avenue in downtown Medford this morning.

Proponents of Measure 15-119 include numerous farmers and other supporters of the Our Family Farms Coalition political action committee. Our Family Farms director Elise Higley said the gathering's main purpose was to respond to claims from ban opponents.

"There's a lot of out-of-town, Salem-based organizations that are here trying to kind of scare people," Higley said. "We really just want the truth to be known."

Measure 15-119 supporters say they want genetically modified crops — GMOs — to be banned in Jackson County, citing health effects and the corruption to organic farm yields because of GMO pollen being blown onto organic fields as reasons.

"This crosses all barriers, race, creed, color, religion, whatever," said horticulturist Mariska Pactwa. "This is about clean food and water for every citizen."

A rally for opponents of the ban will be held at noon today near the same spot.

The 15-119 opposition PAC, Good Neighbor Farmers, says a ban on GMO crops could be a financial drain on the county because of added enforcement, and that it would infringe on private property rights of farmers.

— Ryan Pfeil