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Chamber opposes GMO ban on May 20 ballot

The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County has come out against a proposed ban on genetically modified plants and in favor of establishing an agricultural extension service district. Both Jackson County measures will be on the May 20 ballot.

According to a news release from the chamber, the votes by members of its board of directors were unanimous.

Measure 15-119 would ban so-called GMO plants in Jackson County. The chamber cited the potential costs to the county of enforcing the ban as its reason for opposition.

"Our positions reflect the need to prioritize and protect the current county programs that make Jackson County an attractive place to live and work," Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Brad Hicks said in the release. "We shouldn't even be considering new county functions, when voters are being asked to raise taxes to keep existing ones afloat."

The Chamber supported Measure 15-121, which would establish a new Extension Service district to continue programs such as 4-H, Master Gardeners and agricultural services provided to area farmers, ranchers and orchardists.

The Chamber release noted its origins as the Medford Commercial Club in 1895. The Commercial Club's original mission was to showcase locally produced agriculture.

The Chamber has more than 1,400 member businesses in Jackson County. It supports and advocates for policies that improve government efficiency and the economic climate in Jackson County.

The Chamber release said it was presented with an informational session, but not asked to take a position on Measure 15-122, which would create a district to support the county library system.