Josephine County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 17-58 (May 2014)

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A Josephine County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 17-58 ballot question was on the May 20, 2014 election ballot for voters in Josephine County, Oregon, where it was approved.

This measure banned the production or cultivation of any genetically modified or engineered crop within the boundaries of Josephine County. Measure 17-58 gave exceptions to "state or federally licensed medical research institutions, medical laboratories, or medical manufacturing facilities engaged in licensed medical production, or medical research involving genetically modified organisms." It also allowed farmers and cultivators with genetically modified crops already planted 12 months to harvest and cease the growth of such crops.[1]

Late in 2013, the group GMO-Free Josephine County turned in 1,997 signatures to qualify their GMO-banning initiative for the May 20, 2014 election ballot. On February 18, 2014, the Josephine County Clerk's office verified that the petition was sufficient and certified Measure 17-58 for a voter decision.[2][3]

GMO-Free Josephine County worked with GMO-Free Jackson County, which coordinated a similar measure, Measure 15-119, to bring about a GMO-free Rogue Valley.[4]

This measure flew directly in the face of 2013 statewide legislation. On October 3, 2013, Oregon legislators, in a 17-12 vote, approved Senate Bill 863, which prohibited Oregon counties, excepting 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.[5] GMO-Free Josephine County decided to move forward with their initiative despite this state law. Co-petitioner Mary Middleton said that initiative backers disapproved of the state prohibiting local legislation on this issue, which was important to many local farmers and residents. She also said they were willing to let the courts decide if the state had the power to stop or invalidate their initiative.[3]


Election results

Measure 17-58
Approveda Yes 16,137 58.25%
Election results from Joaephine County Elections Office


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."[6]

Proponents of the bans and ecstatic organic and GMO-free farmers, who spent a little over $400,000 on qualifying the initiatives in Jackson and Josephine counties 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."[6]

Text of measure

Full text


The title section of the ordinance that was be enacted by Measure 17-58 read:[1]

This Ordinance shall be known as the Josephine County Genetically Engineered Plant Ordinance (Measure #17-58)[7]

Purpose and findings

The second section of the ordinance that was enacted by Measure 17-58, entitled "Purpose and findings," read:[1]

Section 2. Purpose and Findings

1. The purpose of this Ordinance is to:

1. Maintain and protect seed sovereignty and local control, free from outside corporate interests and unnecessary and overreaching preemption by the state and federal governments, of this County’s agriculture, environment, public health, economy and private property rights as they pertain to genetic contamination from genetically engineered plants;
2. Prohibit any person, corporation or entity from propagating, raising, or growing genetically engineered plants in Josephine County; and
3. Enable Josephine County to enforce the genetically engineered plant ban and recover the costs of such enforcement.

2. This Ordinance supports the health, welfare and economic viability of the citizens of Josephine County, who desire to:

1. Maintain and protect their inherent sovereign right to grow crops from natural seeds, in order to sustain their families and communities as they have already successfully done for generations;
2. Protect the County’s agriculture, environment, public health, economy and private property from the physical, environmental and monetary damages linked to genetically modified organisms; and
3. Support the right to farm and garden in this County, as the citizens of Josephine County assert that the propagation, cultivation, growing and dispersal of genetically modified organisms are not reasonable or prudent farming practices and instead threaten the health, welfare and economic viability of that inherent right to farm and garden.


The full text of Measure 17-58 was available on the GMO-Free Josephine County website.[1]


"Yes on Measure 17-58" campaign logo


GMO-Free Josephine County was the group behind this initiative.[8]

Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families was the official "Yes on Measure 17-58" campaign group and PAC registered in support of the measure.[9]

Our Family Farms, the PAC registered to support Measure 15-119 in Jackson County, was also registered to support Measure 17-58.[10][11]

An organization called GMO Free Oregon also supported all four 2014 local, anti-GMO measures Oregon.[12]

The Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families listed the following as official supporters of Measure 17-58:[9]

Farms and granges

  • Abbie Lane Farm
  • Applegate Community Grange
  • Applegate Valley Orchard, Grants Pass
  • Barking Moon Farm, Applegate
  • Beet Roots Farm, Cave Junction
  • Black Dog Farmstead, Rogue River
  • Bluebird Farm, Williams
  • Blue Fox Farm, Grants Pass
  • Dance Farm, Cave Junction
  • Dancing Bear Farm, Williams
  • Dream Hill Alpaca, Williams
  • Dovetail Farm, Williams
  • Double J Farms, Cave Junction
  • Diggin’ Livin’ Farm & Apiaries, Cave Junction
  • Frog Farm, Cave Junction
  • Full Circle Bison Ranch, Williams
  • G Bar 6 Ranch, LLC, Grants Pass
  • Gypsy Goat Farms, Williams
  • Hippy Gulch Gardens, Cave Junction
  • Hillhouse Farm, Grants Pass
  • Hope Mountain Organics, Cave Junction
  • Horizon Herbs, Williams
  • Hounds Reach, Williams
  • Illinois Valley Organics
  • Illinois Valley Friday Farmers Market
  • Josephine Mountain Farm, Cave Junction
  • Kittleson Family Farm, Grants Pass
  • Lawrence Farm, Selma
  • L & R Family Farms, Grants Pass
  • Lupine Knoll Farm, Grants Pass
  • Magic Forest Farm, Cave Junction
  • Pennington Farms, Grants Pass
  • Plaisance Ranch, Williams
  • Promiseland Farm, Sunny Valley
  • Rocky Creek Farms, Grants Pass
  • Seven Seeds Farm, Williams
  • Singing Bird Family Farm, Grants Pass
  • Siskiyou Alpaca, Cave Junction
  • Sun Spirit Farm, Williams
  • Sweet Water Farm, Glendale
  • Thankful Farm, O’Brien
  • Thurman Family Farm, Selma
  • Tributary Heirloom Farm, Sunny Valley
  • Turkey Feather Farm, Williams
  • Up The Creek Farm, Selma
  • Whistling Duck Farm LLC, Grants Pass
  • Whole Earth Farm, Grants Pass
  • Wild River Organic Farm, Cave Junction
  • Windy River Farm, Grants Pass
  • White Oak Farm & Education Ctr, Williams
  • Williamsburg Valley Ranch, Williams
  • Williams Creek Farm, Williams
  • Williams Grange #399, Williams


  • 3 Little Birds, Musicians, Grants Pass
  • Acuguru, LLC, Licenced Acupuncturist, Gr. Pass
  • Acupuncture and Herb Clinic, Grants Pass
  • Aergonia, Grants Pass
  • Alcyon Massive, Musician, Cave Junction
  • All That Jazz Dance Studio, Grants Pass
  • Altarwind Music, O’Brien
  • Jen Ambrose, Musician, Grants Pass
  • Anita Crew Massage Therapy, Grants Pass
  • Apothecare, Williams
  • Applegate Lodge, Applegate
  • Aquarius Books & Gifts, Grants Pass
  • Bartlett Real Estate, Grants Pass
  • Dr. J. Lawrence Beal, Nutrition Specialist, Gr Pass
  • Bear In-Stinx, Grants Pass
  • Biodiesel Brasil USA, Grants Pass
  • Bliss Breakthrough Coaching, Grants Pass
  • Bonnie’s Botanicals, Cave Junction
  • Andrew Blasey, Musician, Cave Junction
  • Body Evolution, Grants Pass
  • Bohemian Bar & Bistro, Grants Pass
  • Cabin Chemistry, Grants Pass
  • Camp Ecostery, Selma
  • Cocina 7 Taqueria, Williams
  • Commune I Tea, Cave Junction
  • Connected Threads, Cave Junction
  • Coyote Rising Giant Puppets, Kerby
  • Cradle of Grace Doula Services, Grants Pass
  • Dan The Backhoe Man, Excavation, Williams
  • Dessert First, Chef, Wilderville
  • Diggin’ Livin’ Farm Store, Cave Junction
  • Dream Real, LLC, Grants Pass
  • Eco Tots, Grants Pass
  • Fae Built, Inc., Cave Junction
  • Farmers Market, Grants Pass
  • Farmers Friday Market, Salma & CJ
  • Dr. Shavana Fineberg, Psychologist, Grants Pass
  • Gary Campbell, Master Carver, Cave Junction
  • Gaia Sophia Center For Well Being, Grants Pass
  • Gooseberries, Grants Pass
  • Dr. Heather A. Kahn, MD,P.C. / Rogue Medicine
  • Heirloom Organics, LLC, Grants Pass
  • Herb Shop, Grants Pass
  • Holland Store, Cave Junction
  • Hope Mountain Radio, LLC , Cave Junction
  • Home Sweet Home Restaurant, Grants Pass
  • INFUZED Express, Grants Pass
  • It’s a Burl, Kerby
  • Daryl Jackson, Biologist, Williams
  • Jefferson State Financial Group, Cave Junction
  • Kate Dwyer Catering, Cave Junction
  • Liberty Seed Company, Grants Pass
  • Listen Here Music. Grants Pass
  • Louisa Suta, L.Ac., Cave Junction
  • Mama Terra Micro Creamery, Williams
  • Many Moons
  • Ma Mosa’s Restaurant, Grants Pass
  • Marklan Linnemeyer, LMT, Grants Pass
  • MeThinks Entertainment, Williams
  • Mother Moon Connection, Williams
  • Mountain Family Minerals, Grants Pass
  • Mycorrhizal Applictions, Inc., Grants Pass
  • Mycoformulas, LLC, Talent
  • Dr. Nathan M Tanner , DMD PC, Grants Pass
  • Native Greens, Grants Pass
  • Naturopathic Medical Clinic, Grants Pass
  • New Sammy’s Cowboy Bakery, Talent
  • Kay Nielson PTA, LLC (Physical Therapy), G. Pass
  • Ol’ Champion Outlet, Grants Pass
  • Paisley Retro, Cave Junction
  • Margaret Philhower, N.D., Cave Junction
  • Radiant Family, LLC, Natural Health Clinic, GP
  • Rainmaker Irrigation, Selma
  • Rogue Living, Cave Junction
  • Rogue Coffee Roasters LLC, Grants Pass
  • Rogue Valley Acupuncture, LLC
  • Rosso’s Trattoria, Grants Pass
  • Savannah Fyre Ceramics, Williams
  • Seed Oil Company, Grants Pass
  • Suzan Schrader, Spiritual Counselor, Williams
  • Siskiyou Alpaca, Cave Junction
  • Siskiyou Seeds, Williams
  • Snapdragon Medicine, Karin Rohland, L.Ac., Cv Jn
  • Dr Barbara Sniffen, Pediatrician, Grants Pass
  • Soft Touch Electrolysis, Grants Pass
  • Solis Skin Care, Cave Junction
  • Southern Oregon Mediation Center, Grants Pass
  • Southern Oregon Survival, Grants Pass
  • Southern Oregon Environmental Ctr, Ashland
  • Sterling Greenhouses, Cave Junction
  • Sterling Mortgage Resources, Grants Pass
  • Structural Art Works, Cave Junction
  • Sunshine Natural Foods, Grants Pass
  • Takubeh Farm & Garden, Williams
  • Taste of Alaska, Food Trailer, Grants Pass
  • The Vine Restaurant, Grants Pass
  • Three Sisters Midwifery, Jacksonville
  • Tiger Dance Studio, Cave Junction
  • Versailles, Hugo
  • Wise Women Care Associates, Grants Pass

Health Professionals

  • Dr. J. Lawrence Beal, Nutrition Specialist, Gr Pass
  • Dr. Shavana Fineberg, Psychologist, Grants Pass
  • Dr. Heather A. Kahn, MD,P.C. / Rogue Medicine
  • Daryl Jackson, Biologist, Williams
  • Naturopathic Medical Clinic, Grants Pass, (Ellen Heinitz, ND & Kristen Plunkett, ND)
  • Kay Nielson PTA, LLC (Physical Therapy), G. Pass
  • Margaret Philhower, ND, Cave Junction
  • Dr. Nathan M Tanner, DMD PC
  • Radiant Family, LLC, Natural Health Clinic, GP
  • Ramon Seidler, PhD, Microbiologist
  • Dr. Barbara Sniffen, Pediatrician, Grants Pass
Graphic by Anthony Freda

Arguments in favor

A press release from GMO-Free Josephine County on Measure 17-58 gave the following arguments for the passage of the initiative:[13]

Passage of the measure is critical to the agricultural economy of Josephine County, larger Rogue Valley, and many other regions across Oregon. The Rogue Valley is a principal seed-growing region for many crops, including beets and chard. GMOs directly threaten the economic viability of the organic seed industry in this valley because of the potential for cross-contamination from genetically engineered crops that have been planted nearby. If pollen from GMO sugar beets, for example, is carried by the wind and pollinates an organic crop of beets or chard, then the owner of that farm will be raising GMO crops the next year and will no longer have a truly organic or natural product. Cross-contamination has cost area businesses money in lost seed production. It is the position of GMO-Free Josephine County that everyone has a right to grow food free from genetic contamination for themselves and others.

Genetically engineered organisms, also known as genetically modified organisms or GMOs, are organisms that have undergone laboratory processes to introduce genes from other organisms to create novel genetics that do not occur in nature, such as splicing fish DNA into tomato, or foreign bacteria into corn. GMOs are not created using traditional cross-pollination or hybridization techniques. Once GMOs contaminate organic crops, those crops can no longer be sold and often have to be destroyed. [7]

—GMO-Free Josephine County[13]


  • The Register Guard editorial board approved the publication of an article calling for a "yes" vote on Measure 17-58. The editorial contained the following arguments and conclusion:[14]

Measure 17-58 radio ad

Josephine County does not have much in the way of large-scale agriculture. In fact, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Josephine ranks 32nd among Oregon’s 36 counties in total farm and ranch product sales. Therefore, small-scale farmers are the backbone of the local agricultural economy, and Measure 17-58 is needed to protect these boutique farm operations.

Local farmers rely on the status of their products as “organically grown” to make those products appealing to consumers. Regardless of whether they are selling these products at growers’ markets or to retail outlets, the ability to assure buyers that the products are “organically grown” and “GMO-free” is a crucial part of their marketing effort.

The seed-crops produced here that contain GMOs will primarily be sold to large-scale farmers in other regions of the country. Why the companies that produce these genetically engineered seeds can’t produce their seed-crops in closer proximity to their end-user customers is difficult to understand.

Also, although there is no conclusive science that consumption of GMO products is a health threat, do we really want to discover 20 years from now that we were wrong?

Scientists will continue to debate this issue for many years to come. In the short run, however, banning GMO crops in Josephine County is what is best for the local citizens and the local economy. Vote yes on Measure 17-58. [7]

The Register Guard staff[14]

Campaign finance

The PAC Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families, which was registered to support Measure 17-58, had received $21,239 in contributions and made expenditures equaling $17,979 as of May 20, 2014. Our Family Farms, which collected $382,451 was also registered in support of Measure 17-58, but spent largely in support of Measure 15-119 in Jackson County, which was a more high profile ballot measure.[10][15]



The Good Neighbor Farmers PAC was registered in opposition to Measure 17-58.[16]

Both this measure and Measure 15-119 received overwhelming opposition from farmer bureaus throughout Oregon and large agriculture businesses from throughout the nation.

Notably, the following national corporations donated heavily to defeat these two measures, focusing on the Jackson County Measure 15-119 because of its higher profile and better funded support campaign:[17]

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

Arguments against

Opponents to GMO bans argued that farmers should have the choice to grow GMO crops or not, as they wished. They argued that farmers need to learn to co-exist and that it would be foolish to outlaw a process that was used to produce nutritious, cheap food, provided many jobs in the community and could be done in a safe, regulated way. Critics also wondered if the sweeping prohibition might inadvertently end up banning things like grass seed, which is genetically modified to protect it from Roundup weed killer, and medical marijuana seeds, which are sometimes soaked in a derivative of crocus bulbs in order to double its DNA, increasing the THC produced in each plant.[18][19]

Campaign finance

Good Neighbor Farmers, the committee registered in opposition to Measure 17-58, received a total of $928,764 in contributions and had made expenditures of $907,663 as of May 20, 2014. The Good Neighbor Farmers received most of its support from, the six national agro-businesses listed above, out-of-state sugar beet companies, Pacific Seafood, the West Coast’s largest seafood processor and distributor and farm bureaus throughout Oregon. This PAC was also registered to oppose Measure 15-119 in Jackscon County and spent most of its funds on that more heated and high-profile battle.[20][21]

SB 863

On October 3, 2013, Oregon state 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.[22]

A press release from GMO-Free Josephine County stated the following with regard to SB 863 and Measure 17-58:[13]

GMO-Free Josephine County contends that proceeding with this ballot measure despite possible state preemption (SB 863) is a win-win scenario. Even if the state bill prevails, this ballot initiative can serve as an opportunity for the residents of Josephine County to assert their rights to self-governance, free from undue outside corporate influence and state or federal preemption of critical agricultural matters that affect our local food, farms and future. [7]

—GMO-Free Josephine COunty[13]

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

Additional reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 GMO-Free Josephine County website, "text of initiative," accessed February 21, 2014
  2. News Sum, "Win: Josephine County Oregon Moves to Ban GMO Planting Outright!," February 20, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 Oregon Live, "GMO crops headed for vote in Josephine County despite state ban on local measures," February 19, 2014
  4. Farmwars, "Josephine County Moving Forward with Measure to Ban Planting of GMOs," February 8, 2014
  5. The Oregonian, "GMO bill clears Oregon Senate (2013 special session)," October 2, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 Idaho Statesman, "Jackson County, Oregon, approves GMO ban," May 20, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  8. GMO-Free Josephine County website," accessed February 21, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families website," accessed April 21, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 Our Family Farms Coalition website, archived March 24, 2014
  11. GMO-Free Jackson County website," accessed February 21, 2014
  12. GMO Free Oregon website, accessed March 11, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 GMO-Free Josephine County website, Press Release," accessed February 21, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Register Guard, "GMO ban best option for JoCo (Vote 2014)," May 2, 2014
  15. Oregon Secretary of State website, "Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families account summary," accessed April 21, 2014
  16. Good Neighbor Farmers campaign website," accessed April 24, 2014
  17., "Monsanto and co. pouring money into defeating county measure to ban GMOs," April 7, 2014
  18. The Capital Press, "Cooperation key to GMO vote in county," February 13, 2014
  19. Mail Tribune, "Archived GMO opponents challenge county cost estimates," March 20, 2014
  20. The Oregonian, "Opponents of GMO ban in Jackson County attract money from sugar beet industry," January 24, 2014
  21. Oregon Secretary of State Political Action Committee database, Good Neighbor Farmers," accessed February 24, 2014
  22. The Oregonian, "GMO bill clears Oregon Senate (2013 special session)," October 2, 2013