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Supporters of GMO ban cheer a strong early lead

A packed room of supporters of a measure to ban genetically modified plants in Jackson County erupted in cheers at a downtown Medford restaurant as the first batch of election results were announced just after 8:20 p.m.

Early returns representing 39 percent of voters showed 64.4 percent of voters in support of the measure and 33.6 percent opposed.

"It definitely feels good," said Elise Higley, director for the Our Family Farms Coalition, a group that has campaigned in support of Measure 15-119.

Higley said with only 39 percent of ballots counted, she was cautiously optimistic that the result would go in her favor.

"We'll see what happens," said Higley. "I'd rather it be this than the other way around."

A spokesperson from Good Neighbor Farms, an organization opposed to the bill, said the results were unfortunate.

"We're definitely disappointed," said Ian Tolleson, who gathered with a group of farmers and others opposed to 15-119 in a meeting room at the Rogue Regency Inn.

"It's unfortunate to see ideology win over common sense and science," said Tolleson. "Although this election is over, the debate is not."

If the measure passes, the growing of genetically modified plants will be banned in Jackson County, and genetically modified plants already growing must be harvested or destroyed within 12 months.

Kristina Lefever, a longtime volunteer for Our Family Farms Coalition, said the results were a product of extensive volunteer work.

"It shows what Jackson County can do when they come together."

— Teresa Ristow