A while back, Oregon looked at becoming the first state in the nation to require labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Fortunately, the measure was voted dead 71 to 29, and many predicted that the issue would never rise again. However, now a new anti-GMO measure has popped up in “The Beaver State”.
A group of local farmers has been successfully able to get a GMO cultivation ban (Measure 15-119) on the ballot for the upcoming May 20, 2014 election in Jackson County, Oregon. Meeting the petition requirement with more than 6,700 signatures, Jackson County could become the first in Oregon to ban growing genetically modified crops.
“Protect Oregon Farmers” is a coalition of Jackson County farmers, businesses, organizations and individuals opposed to Measure 15-119. This coalition includes Oregonians for Food and Shelter, Oregon Farm Bureau Federation, Oregon Wheat Growers League, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Oregon Women for Agriculture, Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, among many others.
Putting aside the fact that GMOs have been deemed safe to consume by more 1,700 scientific studies and numerous elite scientific bodies, this ban would be costly. If enacted, it is estimated that the measure would cost $259,302 the first year to administer and about $219,000 annually in subsequent years. Jackson County government is already struggling to pay basic budgetary obligations as well as basic county services. Measure 15-119 is bad for Jackson County, diverting funds away from basic services in order to pay for the administration and enforcement of a new program the county doesn’t need. It threatens farmers with frivolous lawsuits and empowers government inspectors to access private property to confiscate crops.
Even more dire, however, Measure 15-119 is an assault on farmer choice as described in this Capital Press editorial:
“Voters in Jackson County, Ore., will this May decide whether they are pro-choice. They will decide whether a farmer has the right to choose which crop to grow without someone from the county government showing up and forcing him to tear out his crop. Though he may have successfully grown the crop for years, that won’t matter. For him, his right to choose will have evaporated, courtesy of a vote of the people.”