Jackson County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 15-119 (May 2014)

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A Jackson County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 15-119 ballot question was on the May 20, 2014 election ballot for voters in Jackson County, Oregon, where it was approved.

A group of local petitioners in Oregon called GMO-Free Jackson County, hopeful of banning genetic modification and engineering in Jackson County, filed petitions for this measure with over 6,700 signatures on January 2, 2013.[1] The initiative also called on the county to provide inspections and allow enforcement through citizen lawsuits.[2][3]

Oregon state lawmakers approved Senate Bill 863 in 2013, prohibiting counties except Jackson County from regulating or banning GMOs. Although state legislators intended this measure to be the last of its kind, activists in Josephine County moved forward with a similar initiative, Measure 17-58. Despite the new law, activists in Benton County and Lane County also filed initiatives seeking to prohibit GMOs.[4]

GMO-Free Jackson County worked with GMO-Free Josephine County to bring about a GMO-free Rogue Valley.[5]

According to County Administrator Danny Jordan, enforcement of Measure 15-119 could cost the county $219,000 per year. Jordan admitted, however, that there were "significant and complex estimation variables" that prevented him from assuring the accuracy of projected costs.[6][7]



Owners of two alfalfa farms that grow genetically enhanced, Roundup Ready crops filed a lawsuit against Jackson County on November 18, 2014. The farmers hope to compel the county to either overturn Measure 15-119 or provide the farmers with a $4.2 million settlement to cover the costs of destroying their current crop and restricting the most profitable use of their land. The lawsuit specifically argues that the GMO ban violates the state's Right to Farm Act. Early in January 2015, two local organic farmers, the Center for Food Safety and Earthrise Law Center at Lewis and Clark Law School all filed a request to join the court case on the side of the county, hoping to aid in the defense of the GMO-prohibiting initiative.[8][9]

The county decided to delay enforcement of Measure 15-119 until the lawsuit filed by the alfalfa farmers is settled.[10][11]

Election results

Measure 15-119
Approveda Yes 40,201 65.89%
Election results from Jackson County Elections Office (dead link)'


Opponents were convinced that these measures in Jackson and Josephine counties would hurt the farming industry and the economy as a whole in South West Oregon and that the prohibition went against basic fairness towards GMO farmers seeking to make a living in the competitive business. Barry Bushue, president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, said, "Regrettably ideology defeated sound science and common sense in Jackson County. We respect the voice of the voters, but remain convinced Measure 15-119 is bad public policy. While this election is over, this debate is not. We will continue to fight to protect the rights of all farmers to choose for themselves how they farm."[12]

Proponents of the bans and ecstatic organic and GMO-free farmers, who spent a little over $400,000 on qualifying the initiatives for the ballot and campaigning in support of them, were happy about the benefits they will see from the measures and were grateful for the voters' decision. Chuck Burr, president of the Southern Oregon Seed Growers Association, said, "The voters here have many generations of fruit and vegetable growing, so they're among the most educated voters. The opposition spent a million dollars and couldn't convince the people." Burr went on to say, "This vote is going to make Jackson and Josephine county one of the most valuable seed-growing regions in the entire country, period."[12]

Text of measure

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:[13]

Should Ordinance Ban Growing of “Genetically-Engineered” Plants (defined) in Jackson County and Allow County/Private Persons to Compel Enforcement?[14]

Summary statement

The following summary of Measure 15-119 was provided by the Jackson County Elections department:[13]

This ordinance would ban any person from propagating, cultivating, raising or growing “genetically-engineered” (defined) plants in Jackson County.

The Ordinance also:

  • Requires affected persons to harvest, destroy or remove all genetically engineered plants within 12 months of the enactment of the ordinance;
  • Provides exemptions for certain health, educational, scientific and medical research institutions if activities are conducted under secure, indoor laboratory conditions;
  • Allows for inspections of private property by County code enforcement officers after obtaining a search warrant;
  • Allows for enforcement of the ordinance by the County and by private persons or groups through the State court system;
  • Provides for contested hearings and appeals for alleged violations;
  • Allows the County to recover the cost of abatement from the property owner or the person causing the violation;
  • Defines the terms “genetically engineered,” “organic agriculture,” and “organic;”[14]

Video of supporters and opponents of Measure 15-119

Full text

The full text of the legislation proposed by this measure is available here.



See also: Jackson County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 15-119 (May 2014), Supporters

Our Family Farms Coalition and GMO Free Jackson County were the chief political action committees campaigning in support of Measure 15-119.[15][16]

Other supporters included:[17]

According to the support website, the following is a partial list of supporters of a GMO ban:[15]


  • AB Seeds, Talent
  • Abbie Lane Farms, Gold Hill
  • Adam’s Farm, Ashland
  • Afternoon Zephyr Farm, Medford
  • Alpha Beta Hops Farm, Ashland
  • Anam Cara Gardens, Ashland
  • Andrew Mount Farm, Talent
  • Antonio's Farm, White City
  • Ayala Orchards, Ashland
  • Barking Moon Farm, Applegate
  • Barndog Acres, Williams
  • Bel Avenir Farm, Ashland
  • Bigham Farms, Medford
  • Blackberry Lane Farms, Grants Pass
  • Blue Fox Farm, Applegate
  • Buckbrush Acres, White City
  • By George Farm, Jacksonville
  • Caldwell Acres, Gold Hill
  • Callahan Seeds, Central Point
  • Cherry Gulch Farm, Williams
  • Chickadee Farm, Medford
  • Childers Show Goats, Medford
  • Confluence Organics, Williams
  • Cordeiro Farm, Cave Junction
  • Crabtree Farm, Ashland
  • Creekside Botanicals, Gold Hill
  • Critical Roots Farm, Gold Hill
  • Dancing Bear Farm, Williams
  • David's Specialty Nursery, Gold Hill
  • Deason Peonies, Medford
  • DeLuca Family Fig Farm, Talent
  • Diggin Livin Farm & Apiary, Cave Junction
  • Dunbar Farms, Medford
  • Eagle Mill Farm, Ashland
  • Earth and Sky Family Farm, Phoenix
Click here for a full list of supporters, including all farms in favor of Measure 15-119.


Our Family Farms Coalition campaign logo
  • Applegate Valley Community Grange #839
  • Bellview Grange #759, Ashland
  • Evans Creek Enterprise Grange #489, Rogue River
  • Phoenix Grange #779, Phoenix
  • Williams Grange #399, Williams
  • Local Farmers' Markets and Farm Organizations
  • Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market (170+member vendors), Medford
  • Talent Evening Market, Talent
  • Rogue Farm Corp, Ashland
  • Rogue Valley Farm to School, Ashland
  • Southern Oregon Beekeepers Association, Grants Pass
  • Southern Oregon Permaculture Institute, Ashland
Click here for a full list of supporters, including all granges in favor of Measure 15-119.


  • Ashland Food Co-op (8000+ members), Ashland
  • Medford Food Co-op, Medford
  • A-Raw'ns Truffles, Talent
  • Abella Catering, Medford
  • Amuse Restaurant, Ashland
  • Andy's Alchemy, Talent
  • Anya’s Thai Bistro, Ashland
  • Artisan Bakery Café, Medford
  • Ashland Food Angels, Ashland
  • Ashland Gourmet Catering, Ashland
  • Ashland Wine Cellar, Ashland
  • Bach Thor Wild Foods, Ashland
  • Bad Ass Coffee, Medford
  • Bella Union Restaurant and Saloon, Jacksonville
  • Bloomsbury Coffee House, Ashland
  • Blue Toba Indonesian Food, Ashland
  • Boulton & Son Butchers LLC, Ashland
  • Bricktowne Brewing Company, Medford
  • Burger Spot, Medford
  • Buttercloud Bakery and Café, Medford
  • C Street Bistro, Jacksonville
  • Calluna's Kitchen, Jacksonville
  • Capers, Medford
  • Case Coffee Roasters, Ashland
  • Conner Fields Brewing, Grants Pass
  • Cooking for Wellnesss, Wilberville
  • Crema, Talent
  • Cultured Goddess, Gold Hill
  • Daddy's Donuts & Juices, Grants Pass
  • Depoe St Burger and Malt Shop, Rogue River
  • Deux Chats, Ashland
  • EcoTeas, Ashland
  • Evo's Coffee Lounge, Ashland
  • Fire Cirkl, White City
  • Flower of Life Essential Blends, Mt. Shasta
  • Four and Twenty Blackbirds Bakery, Ashland
  • Fulcrum Dining, Applegate
  • Grains Beans and Things, Medford
  • Great Harvest Bread Co, Medford
  • Greenleaf Restaurant, Ashland
  • Health Food Mart, Medford
  • Healthway Nutrition Center, Medford
  • Ichigo Cakes, Ashland
Click here for a full list of supporters, including all restaurants in favor of Measure 15-119.


  • THRIVE - The Rogue Initiative for a Vital Economy
  • Families for Food Freedom, Ashland
  • Center for Food Safety (CFS), Portland
  • Jacksonville Woodlands Association, Jacksonville
  • Rivergate Christian Church, Ashland
  • Project Rogue Valley, Medford
  • Rogue Valley Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter, (750+ members), Medford
  • Chamber of Commons, Ashland
  • Earth Teach Forest Park/Way Foundation, Ashland
  • Ecology Center of the Siskiyous (ECOS), Ashland
  • Ecos Garden at SOU, Ashland
  • JCLAC - Jackson County Local Action Coalition, Medford
  • K.S. Wild, Ashland
  • Mothers Against GMOs, Ashland
  • Peace House, Ashland
  • Simply Seeds of Grace, Medford
  • Southern Oregon Slow Money, Medford
  • Southern Oregon Time Bank, Ashland
  • Sugar Loaf Association, Williams
  • The Siskiyou Collective, Williams
  • Ashland Bee Haven International, Ashland
  • Ubuntuworks Peace Education Project, Ashland
  • Unity in Ashland, Ashland
  • Wake Up America Southern Oregon, Grants Pass
  • Women's International League for Peace and Freedom- Ashland Branch
  • Woodland Charter School, Murphy
Click here for a full list of supporters, including all organizations in favor of Measure 15-119.


  • A Body Mod, Medford
  • A Rae Pilates Studio, Talent
  • A Street Print & Parcel, Ashland
  • About Change Salon, Medford
  • Advanced Photo and Imaging, Ashland
  • Alternair, Inc., Ashland
  • American Ruralcraft, Ashland
  • Anna's CPR Class, Central Point
  • Applegate Rock Shop, Murphy
  • Aqua Serene, Inc., Ashland
  • Ascari Bicycles, Inc., Ashland
  • Ashland Construction, Ashland
  • Ashland Custom Builders LLC, Ashland
  • Ashland Electric, Ashland
  • Ashland Electric Bikes, Ashland
  • Ashland High School Grizz Garden, Ashland
  • Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites, Ashland
  • Ashland Piano Service, Ashland
  • Ashland Springs Hotel, Ashland
  • Autumn Woods, Gazelle
  • Ayala Properties, Ashland
  • Bayless Riverview Realty, Gold Hill
  • Bellwood Violin, Ashland
  • Bill Francis Fine Ceramics, Ashland
  • Bill Hernon Construction, LLC, Williams
  • Bowerbird & Company, Medford
  • Cascade Heating & Air, Medford
  • Center for Women in the Global Community, Ashland
  • Clearlight Optical Co., Ashland
  • Coleman Creek Construction, Ashland
  • Computer Consulting Group, Inc., Ashland
  • Computer Services Northwest, Medford
  • Critical Eggplant Fiber&Ink Arts, Ashland
  • Dark Regions Press, Ashland
  • David Lorenz Winston Photography, Talent
  • Deborah Thornton Photograpghy, Ashland
  • Dynomyte Publications, Ashland
  • Econest Company, Ashland
Click here for a full list of supporters, including all businesses in favor of Measure 15-119.

Community Members

  • Susan Adams
  • Lynda Ainsworth, Ashland, OR
  • Elizabeth Austin
  • Regina Ayars, Ashland, OR
  • Laurie Baden, Ashland, OR
  • Agnes Baker-Pilgrim (Grandma Aggie), Grants Pass, OR
  • Bruce Bauer, Gold Hill, OR
  • Maribeth Beaudoin, Ashland, OR
  • Joan Becich
  • Pat Beck, Jacksonville, OR
  • Jami Bishop
  • Claire Blennerhassett
  • C Born
  • Peter Buckley (State Representative), Ashland, OR
  • Marie Buckner, Portland, OR
  • Cindy Bujosa, Medford, OR
  • Brooke Burdett, Medford, OR
  • Vickie Burns
  • BJ Buxton, Medford, OR
  • Sheila Chambers
  • Jeanne Chouard, Ashland, OR
  • Terre Christensen
  • Shannon Christopher
  • Kim Cochin, Portland, OR
  • Stacy Cole, San Diego, CA
  • Leslie Cox
  • Pamela Creasy, Talent, OR
  • Tamara Dawson, Portland, OR
Click here for a full list of supporters, including individuals in favor of Measure 15-119.

Arguments in favor

Graphic by Anthony Freda

Many supporters of this measure were local organic farmers who argued that their crops were being contaminated by the pollen of GMO farms nearby. The chief petitioner for this measure, Brian Comnes, said that the main purpose of the GMO ban was to protect organic farmers facing the danger of losing money if their own product was contaminated, preventing them from selling produce or seeds as "Organic" and "GMO free." According to reports, some farmers have had to throw away seeds worth thousands of dollars because of contamination. Speaking of the impact of nearby farms using genetically modified organisms, Glenda Ponder said, "It ties our hands for saving our chard seed and planting or selling it as organic. Selling organic seed is a good way to make money, but we can't do it."[3]

Supporters of the ban also pointed to the fact that some countries have outlawed the importation of GMO crops, potentially threatening the agricultural export industry in Oregon. Jared Walters, the operations manager for a large, non-organic farm, and a supporter of Measure 15-119, recounted that in 2013 Japan and South Korea banned imported American wheat because they had found some wheat that was genetically engineered to resist herbicides. Walters said that he lost $250,000 because of the wheat ban and expressed concern that his farm could face similar losses in the future. Steve Fry of Fry Family Farm, who also supported the measure, estimated that he lost thousands of dollars annually because of GMO contamination from neighboring crops. Fry said, "It's an economic hardship for seed growers."[18]

The Our Family Farms Coalition website listed the following arguments against GMOs and in favor of Measure 15-119:[15]

THE FAMILY FARMS MEASURE 15-119 PROTECTS FAMILY FARMERS from the serious risk that their crops will be contaminated by genetically engineered crops that are patented and controlled by large out-of-state chemical corporations. There’s no practical way to stop genetically engineered pollen and seed from trespassing onto traditional farms that have been here for years. And when a traditional crop becomes contaminated with genetically engineered pollen, it can be impossible for the farmer to sell.

PROTECTS OUR DRINKING WATER AND KIDS Genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011.1 These chemicals can end up in our water and our children's bodies. This increased pesticide use has also led to the evolution of high-impact Superweeds2. The measure will help prevent Superweeds from becoming a major problem in the Rogue Valley.

PROTECTS FAMILY FARMERS FROM PATENT LAWSUITS by Monsanto and the other chemical corporations. These corporations have threatened many innocent farmers with patent infringement lawsuits after their patented pollen or seed has trespassed onto family farmers' property.[14]

Campaign finance

In response to the large contributions made to the campaign against Measure 15-119, Chris Hardy, a Talent organic farmer and a chief petitioner for the initiative, said, "Indeed, they do want to squash us like a bug. This is about whether we are going to turn the keys to agriculture in the Rogue Valley over to a multinational corporation (Syngenta) or we are going to say no and stand up to protect our family farms' future."[19][20]

The two action committees registered in support of Measure 15-119 are GMO Free Jackson County and Our Family Farms Coalition. As of May 20, 2014, the total contributions made to these two PACs in both 2013 and 2014 amounted to $411,739, with expenditures totaling approximately $400,000.[21][22] The following table shows notable contributions of $500 or more.[23][24]

Donor Amount
5M Society[25] $10,150
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps $15,000
Consumer Reports $5,000
Food Democracy Action $10,000
Center for Food Safety Fund $5,000
Marion Edey $1,000
Brandon Lerda $1,000
Gillette Family Trust $1,000
Elizabeth Coker $2,500
Jonathan Major $1,500
Newton Roderick $1,000
Kathleen Courian-Sanchez[26] $2,719
Martin (Marty) Marjor $1,000
Mercola.com Health Resources, LLC $10,000
Tamasin Taylor $1,000
Committee to Re-Elect Peter Buckley $1,000
Anne Golden $2,500
Kaydee Corp dba Papa Murphy's $3,375
Sallie Cahoun $1,000
Anna Cassily $2,500
Dakota Otto $2,500
Lorraine Grace $1,000
Wendy Seldon $5,000
Pacific Botanicals, LLC $1,000
Thomas Powell $1,000
Ann Macrory $1,000
Ashland Food Co-op $1,000
Donor Amount
Elizabeth Ellington $500
Anna Cassily $5,000
Kathryn Thalden $1,500
Barry Thalden $1,500
Kara Olmo $500
Jerome White $500
Julia McFadden $656
Daniel Gregg $1,000
Marc Valens $4,500
Stephen Fenwick 1,000
Center for Food Safety Fund $5,000
Luke Frazer $500
Karen Swift $4,500
Karen Wennlund $550
Wendy Seldon $25,000
John Swift $12,000
GMO-Free Jackson County Group $11,000
CPM Real Estate $900
Jim Levie $1,000
Tamsin Taylor $2,000
Liza Maltsberger $1,000
Jasmine Karcey $500
Organic Consumers Fund $26,180
Judy Kerstetter $500
Committee to Re-Elect Peter Buckley $1,000
Jackson County Local Action Coalition $2,674
Ashland Alternative Health $600

Support campaign videos

Our Family Farms Coalition, "YES on the Measure 15-119"

Our Family Farms Coalition, "Radio ad"

Our Family Farms Coalition, "Jared's Story"


Protect Our Farmers campaign logo


The Good Neighbor Farmers was the chief committee in opposition to Measure 15-119. Opponents began a campaign in opposition to Measure 15-119 called Protect Oregon Farmers.

Sen. Doug Whitsett (R-28) officially opposed Measure 15-119 and wrote an article in opposition to the initiative.[27]

Other opponents included:[28]

  • Oregonians for Food and Shelter
  • Oregon Farm Bureau Federation
  • Lane County Farm Bureau
  • Clackamas County Farm Bureau
  • Deschutes County Farm Bureau
  • Yamhill County Farm Bureau
  • Columbia County Farm Bureau
  • Jackson County Farm Bureau
  • Coos-Curry County Farm Bureau
  • Klamath-Lake County Farm Bureau
  • Tillamook County Farm Bureau
  • Oregon Wheat Growers League
  • Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association
  • Oregon Cattlemen’s Association
  • Oregon Women for Agriculture
  • Crook-Wheeler Farm Bureau
  • Oregon Seed Council
  • Oregon Dairy Farmers Association
  • Oregon State Senator Alan Olsen
  • Wilco
  • Castle Rock Farming
  • Columbia Helicopters
  • Oregon Association of Nurseries
  • Pacific Seafood
  • Jackson County Farm Bureau
  • Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative
  • American Crystal Sugar Co.
  • Sidney Sugars[19]
  • The multinational, Swiss corporation called Syngenta
  • Many other financial contributors to the "no" on Measure 15-119 are listed below.

Agro-chemical companies

Six of the nation's biggest chemical and agriculture companies poured large amounts of money into the battle over this local measure. These companies were:[29]

  • Monsanto
  • DuPont Pioneer
  • Syngenta
  • Bayer CropScience LP
  • BASF Plant Science
  • Dow AgroScience

Together these companies donated at least $455,000 in opposition to Measure 15-119.[29]


The multinational Swiss corporation called Syngenta grew genetically modified seeds on over 20 small plots throughout Jackson County. These seeds were then shipped to other areas where they were used to produce a large portion of the commercial sugar beet seeds used around the country. Operations such as these Syngenta seed plots were outlawed by Measure 15-119.[20]

Arguments against

The Jackson County Farm Bureau stood among those who opposed this measure. This organization argued that it was the responsibility of every farmer to co-exist with growers of different types. The president of the Jackson County Farm Bureau, Ronald Bjork, said, "We believe that farmers need to get together and work out their own problems."[30]

Luther Markwart of the Sugar Beet Growers Association from Washington D.C. said, "We oppose any prohibition on the production of biotech crops in any county. The reason it is important to us is there is what we refer to as basic seed that is grown in the county."[19]

In an article he wrote opposing Measure 15-119, Sen. Doug Whitsett (R-28) proposed that the ban would cause artificially expensive food production, crippling the non-organic farming industry in Jackson County. He also said that the World Health Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization certified that genetically engineered food is not harmful and has the same nutritional value as non-GMO food. He concluded his article with the following three paragraphs:[27]

Organically produced and “GMO free” food products are significantly more expensive to produce than conventional products. They are consistently more expensive for the consumer to purchase, even though a compelling body of evidence proves they have no measurable advantage in either nutritional value or food safety.

In our free market economy, self-designated growers are definitely entitled to produce all of the “organic” products they can sell. Self-selected consumers certainly have the right to purchase organically grown products whenever that is their desire. However, in my opinion, their rights do not extend to artificially driving up the price of food products for the majority of consumers who want to purchase less expensive equally nutritious and safe non-organic products.

Measure 15-119 should be rejected because it will artificially increase both the cost of production and the retail cost of food products. It should be rejected because it serves to unfairly penalize non-organic growers for producing safe, nutritious and affordable food products. It should be rejected because it represents an affront to our free market economy. [14]

Sen. Doug Whitsett (R-28)[27]

Opponents also argued that the initiative was far too broad and would keep the county agriculture industry from taking advantage of advances in science, both now and in the future. Rich Hansen, holder of a master's degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Wisconsin and the former president of the Agricultural Relations Council, wrote:[31]

I have long been an admirer of Normal Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize 40 years ago for his role in leading the Green Revolution. His team developed specific new strains of wheat and other cereal grains (much like GMO researchers are working on now) that were specifically designed for the growing conditions in various Third World countries. They then helped those farmers use these new seeds and converted them from using animal manure to modern chemical fertilizers. Before long, yields increased, the peasant farmers were making profits and people in their countries had ample, reasonably priced food. It was a dramatic example of the benefits of agricultural research.


Everyday we enjoy the benefits of science and technology — in our smartphones, cars and planes and an abundant, nutritious food supply. A blanket prohibition on the use of ag research in Jackson County doesn't make sense. Perhaps if we were looking at a specific ban of one or two new GMO seed varieties that presented a problem to very specific crops in Jackson County, I would consider it. But what we have is a sweeping ban that would set back local agriculture for years and years.

I strongly urge voters to reject this measure. [14]

—Rich Hansen[31]

Campaign finance

The Good Neighbor Farmers committee in opposition to Measure 15-119 received a total of $928,764 in contributions and made expenditures of $907,663 as of May 20, 2014.[32] To date, half of all the donations to Good Neighbor Farmers in opposition to Measure 15-119 have come directly from six of the nation's largest agro-chemical companies, with combined contributions amounting to at least $455,000.[29]

The following tables show some of the major contributions to this PAC, highlighting organizations and entities that contributed $1,000 or more in opposition to Measure 15-119.[33][34]

Donor Amount
Affordable Renewable Energy PAC $7,283
Oregonians for Food & Shelter $10,000
Kansas Farm Bureau Legal Foundation $5,000
Spreckels Sugar Company, Inc. $6,700
Affordable Renewal Energy Pac $7,284
Malheur County Farm Bureau $5,000
Bayer CropScience LP $22,354
BASF Plant Science, LP $22,353
Dow AgroSciences $22,353
DuPont Pioneer $129,647
Monsanto Company $183,294
Syngenta Crop Protection LLC $75,000
Umatilla Electric Cooperative $5,000
Oregon Seed Association $7,500
National Corn Growers Association $9,500
Nyssa Nampa Beet Growers Assn $7,500
Stimson Lumber Company $5,000
Oregon Seed Council $10,000
Perpetua Forests Company $1,000
Wilson Cattle Company $2,500
Big Horn County Sugar Beet Growers Association $2,000
Jackson County Stockman's Association $2,000
Big Horn Basin Beet Growers Association $10,000
Mountain States Beet Growers Association $2,000
New Mexico Farm and livestock Bureau $1,000
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation $2,000
B. Starker $1,000
The Oregon Cattlemen's Association $5,000
Klamath-Lake Co. Farm Bureau $1,000
Nebraska Non Stock Sugarbeet Growers Assn. Inc. $15,000
Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative $20,000

Donor Amount
Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative $10,000
Starker Forests, Inc $10,000
FirstVote Pac (4311) $12,000
Pacific Seafood $25,000
Colorado Sugar Beet Growers Association $2,500
Arizona Farm Bureau Federation $1,000
Oregon Women for Agriculture $1,000
Colorado Farm Bureau $1,000
Union County Farm Bureau $1,000
Oregon Wheat Growers League $10,000
Castle Rock Farming, LLC $10,000
Jackson County Farm Bureau $5,000
American Crystal Sugar Co. $16,700
Crook-Wheeler County Farm Bureau $1,000
West Coast Beet Seed Company $10,000
Wyoming Sugar Company $10,000
Wilco $10,000
Yamhill County Farm Bureau $1,000
Deschutes County Farm Bureau $2,500
Indiana Farm Bureau $1,000
Western Sugar Cooperative $10,000
S.D. Farm Bureau Federation $10,000
Multnomah County Farm Bureau $7,500
The Amalgamated Sugar Company LLC $10,000
Michigan Sugar Company $10,000
Marion County Farm Bureau $2,500
Oregon Farm Bureau Political Action Committee $11,500
Oregon Farm Bureau Federation $38,000
Sidney Sugars $10,000
Texas Farm Bureau $5,000
Clackamas County Farm Bureau $2,500


Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
as of May 20, 2014
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $411,739
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $928,764
  • The Capital Press published an editorial against Measure 15-119.

The editorial board wrote that farmers should have the choice to grow GMO crops or not, as they wished:[35]

"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."

The editorial also argued that it was illogical to have the county voters dictate policy on an agriculturally and economically complex issue:[35]

"No matter how you look at it, having voters dictate what shall and shall not be grown in the county is illogical. Farming requires a high level of knowledge about crops, soil and climate to choose a crop that will be successful and profitable. To hand that decision over to a random voter in Ashland or anywhere else makes no sense whatsoever. It turns the science of agriculture into a political football."

It went on to express the position that GMOs are in fact not harmful:[35]

"GMOs have been shown to be safe, successful and profitable. Though the drumbeat continues that they are somehow unsafe, that position is not backed up by anything other than assertions from those who hope to profit by sowing suspicion and conspiracy theories. And don’t let the activists fool you. Ask them for proof of the “evils” of GMOs and ask the tough questions. The “proof” boils down to interesting but unproven theories."

The editorial concluded by saying:[35]

"And be not mistaken. We’re not pro- or anti-GMO, just as we’re not pro- or anti-pro-organic. We’re pro-farmer. We believe there’s enough good earth for all farmers to grow all types of crops."

Reports and analyses

Citizens' Initiative Review

A Citizens' Initiative Review panel of 20 county residents released its findings on April 30, 2014. The panel concluded GMOs would, in fact, contaminate non-GMO crops if grown in the county, but it also noted that the modern science world generally holds common GMO crops to be safe and that "it is unwise to ban all GMOs due to management problems for the benefit of a small minority of farmers." The report also stated that the costs of enforcement might be very minimal and would likely to be less than those estimated by the county administrator. The report ruled out "co-existence," which was a solution that opponents of Measure 15-119 advocated, saying, "The choice is between supporting local farmers growing non-GE crops or mostly large, multinational corporations growing GE crops. It appears that coexistence is not a possibility because of Jackson County's geography and because the largest GE grower is not interested in cooperation." The following were among the chief conclusions and findings of the report:[36]

  • It is not practically possible to stop GMO pollen and seed from being carried by wind onto non-GMO farms.
  • Federal patent law makes it illegal for farmers to save, plan or sell seeds produced from genetically engineered pollen, even if that pollen is propagated by the wind.
  • Contamination is next to impossible to avoid and has detrimental economic impacts on some local farmers.
  • Although there is widespread misinformation to the contrary, most mainstream scientists and health groups hold GMO crops to be safe and beneficial.
  • GMO crops that are engineered to be resistant to herbicides are more likely to be sprayed with large amounts of chemicals and herbicides, increasing the chance that such chemicals end up in food and water.
  • Similar bans in other counties have resulted in no enforcement cost to the county.
  • The enforcement of Measure 15-119 could require the hiring and training of new staff for Jackson County.


County Administrator Danny Jordan, while stating that he was not advocating any particular position on the initiative, reported to the Jackson County Commissioners on the ramifications of the enactment of Measure 15-119. He said enforcement of the measure, including the possible need for a full-time code inspector, time dedicated from a hearings officer, a contractor for testing and other county resources, could cost the county a net $219,000 per year. His report explicitly qualified all data presented by saying, "Because of the significant and complex estimation variables, I cannot assure ultimate accuracy of the cost projections." He went on to say that, due to "undefined terms and vague terminology" in the measure, it could outlaw such things as grass seed, which is genetically modified to protect it from Roundup weed killer, and medical marijuana seeds, which, according to Jordan, are often soaked in a derivative of crocus bulbs in order to double its DNA, increasing the THC produced in each plant.[7]

Jordan, with regard to potential lawsuits over Measure 15-119, said, "In order to enforce the proposed Ordinance, the County is going to have to make policy/legal judgments on the various terms that are not defined, increasing the risk of litigation."[6]

Jordan also noted that the cost of the abatement of genetically modified organisms called for by Measure 15-119 was unknown. He said the cost could be nothing if farmers all comply or if private entities perform abatement procedures, but it could also reach as much as $2 million to completely purge GMO crops in a 20 acre field if the county chooses to abate GMOs itself under Measure 15-119.[6][7]

Supporters pointed out that the ordinance was complaint driven, meaning costs of discovering genetic modification would be minimal. They also said that the county was under no legal obligation to enforce the GMO ban if Measure 15-119 passed. Proponents expected some of the enforcement to come from private litigation, in which an individual or small farmer sues because of nearby GMO farms.[18][7]

Relevant state laws

On October 3, 2013, Oregon legislators, in a 17-12 vote, approved Senate Bill 863, which prohibited Oregon counties other than Jackson County from regulating or banning genetically modified organisms. SB 863 claimed an emergency status in an unsuccessful effort to preclude initiatives against GMOs in Benton and Lane counties. A recent court ruling, however, stated that SB 863 cannot be used to keep initiatives off the ballot. The decision left open the possibility that SB 863 be the source of a court battle once initiatives concerning agriculture regulation are approved, but Benton, Josephine and Lane County activists moved forward with their proposed measures undeterred.[4]

Similar measures

See also: Local GMO on the ballot

Local bans



Approveda Maui County Genetically Modified Organism Moratorium Initiative (November 2014)
Approveda Humboldt County "Genetic Contamination Prevention Ordinance" GMO Ban Initiative, Measure P (November 2014)
Approveda Jackson County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 15-119 (May 2014)
Approveda Josephine County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 17-58 (May 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Lane County Genetically Modified Organism Ban (2014)

Statewide labeling measures

Defeatedd Colorado Mandatory Labeling of GMOs Initiative (2014)
Defeatedd Oregon Mandatory Labeling of GMOs Initiative (2014)
Defeatedd California Proposition 37, Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food (2012)
Defeatedd Oregon Labeling of Genetically-Engineered Foods, Measure 27 (2002)
Defeatedd Washington Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Measure, Initiative 522 (2013)

See also

External links

Suggest a link

Basic info



Additional reading


  1. Kobi 5 News, “GMO Free Jackson County Files 6700 Signatures,” Jan. 2, 2013
  2. KPTV News, “Organic Oregon farmers attempt to ban genetically modified crops,” Jan. 2, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Mail Tribune, “Initiative would ban GMO foods in Jackson County,” Jan. 2, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Oregonian, "GMO bill clears Oregon Senate (2013 special session)," October 2, 2013
  5. Farmwars, "Josephine County Moving Forward with Measure to Ban Planting of GMOs," February 8, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Mail Tribune, "GMO ban enforcement would be costly, could affect lawns and medical pot, county says," March 12, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Jackson County Clerk's office, Video of County Supervisors' March 12, 2014, meeting, featuring Danny Jordan's presentation on Measure 15-119," accessed April 25, 2014
  8. Mail Tribune, "Farmers file suit over GMO crop ban," November 18, 2014
  9. Statesman Journal, "Battle over GMOs continues in Oregon," January 8, 2015
  10. Times Union, "Jackson County holds off enforcement of GMO ban," December 19, 2014
  11. Ashland Daily Tidings, "Jackson County waits for court ruling on GMO ban," December 18, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 Idaho Statesman, "Jackson County, Oregon, approves GMO ban," May 20, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 Jackson County government website, "15-119: Ordinance to Ban Growing of Some “Genetically-Engineered” (defined) Plants"
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Our Family Farms Coalition website, archived March 24, 2014
  16. GMO-Free Jackson County website," accessed February 21, 2014
  17. GMO Free Oregon website, accessed March 11, 2014
  18. 18.0 18.1 Mail Tribune, "Archived GMO opponents challenge county cost estimates," March 20, 2014
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Mail Tribune, "Outside seed money finances GMO battle," January 29, 2014
  20. 20.0 20.1 San Francisco Chronicle, "David-Goliath battle over GMO sugar beets in Ore.," corrected January 31, 2014
  21. Note: The PAC Our Family Farms Coalition is also registered to support Measure 17-58 in Josephine County
  22. Note: These totals exclude contribution/expenditure exchanges between GMO Free Jackson County and Our Family Farms Coalition, as counting this money (about $74,600) would give an inaccurate idea of total contributions to the "yes on Measure 15-119 campaign."
  23. Oregon Secretary of State Political Action Committee database, GMO Free Jackson County," accessed February 24, 2014
  24. Oregon Secretary of State Political Action Committee database, Our Family Farms Coalition," accessed February 24, 2014
  25. Note: The 5M Society gave cash and in-kind donations
  26. Note: Courian-Sanchez gave cash and in-kind donations
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Oregon Catalyst, "In opposition to Jackson County Measure 15-119 GMO ban," April 18, 2014
  28. Protect Oregon Farmers website, archived March 24, 2014
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 RT.com, "Monsanto and co. pouring money into defeating county measure to ban GMOs," April 7, 2014
  30. KTV 1 News, "GMO Ban Petition Qualifies For Jackson County Ballot," January 10, 2013
  31. 31.0 31.1 Mail Tribune, "Proposed ban too broad, will hurt local agriculture," May 4, 2014
  32. Note: The PAC Good Neighbor Farmers is also registered to oppose Measure 17-58 in Josephine County
  33. The Oregonian, "Opponents of GMO ban in Jackson County attract money from sugar beet industry," January 24, 2014
  34. Oregon Secretary of State Political Action Committee database, Good Neighbor Farmers," accessed February 24, 2014
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 The Capital Press, "Cooperation key to GMO vote in county," February 13, 2014
  36. Mail Tribune, "Review panel presents GMO measure find," May 1, 2014