Lane County Genetically Modified Organism Ban (2014)

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A Lane County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, also known as the Lane County Local Food System Ordinance, ballot measure may be on a 2014 election ballot for voters in Lane County, Oregon.

According to the website of the Eugene-based Support Local Food Rights (SLFR), which is running the initiative effort, this measure, if it reaches the ballot and is approved, would do the following:[1]

  • Recognize the right of residents "to a local food system that assures residents’ ability to grow and produce food, while at the same time, recognizing natures ability to thrive;"
  • Prohibit genetically modified crops in Lane County;
  • Place the rights of the community over corporate agribusiness powers and privileges.

When the SLFR originally proposed this initiative, the county clerk rejected the ordinance as too broad and ruled that it did not comply with single subject requirements. Currently, this measure is before Oregon 2nd Judicial District Judge Charles Carlson, where county attorneys, backing up the clerk's ruling, argued that the proposed initiative is illegal. Attorneys fighting on behalf of SLFR and the initiative, however, argued that the ordinance has one purpose and that all of the sections of the proposed law are meant to protect and pursue that purpose. Final arguments were submitted on February 27, 2014.[2][3]

Ann Kneeland, spokesperson for Support Local Food Rights, identified the unifying principle of the Lane County Local Food System Ordinance as “obtaining and protecting a natural community.” She went on to say, “All the provisions in the ordinance advance that goal." If Judge Carlson ultimately rules in favor of the initiative in his final decision, the SFLR will begin collecting signatures, making a vote on this measure possible in November.[3]

Text of measure

Full text

The first section of the ordinance proposed by Support Local Food Rights, entitled "Purpose," is below:[4]

Section 1. Purpose

We the people of Lane County believe that ecology, economy, and food are inseparable and that the health of one fosters and enhances the health of all.

We the people of Lane County know that the local food system of Lane County is essential to the well-being of residents, farmers, local food producers, consumers, and our local economy, and is dependent upon the health of the natural communities of Lane County.

We the people of Lane County assert that our local food system can function and thrive only where there are protected rights to local food and seed heritage, and rights for natural communities; all of which are anchored by the right of the community to self-government; and that our local food system can exist and endure only in the absence of seed patents, genetically engineered organisms, and corporate and government interference in the aforementioned rights.

We the people of Lane County assert that our right to local self-government is inherent, fundamental, and inalienable, and that our U.S. Declaration of Independence proclaims that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.

We the people of Lane County affirm that the Oregon Constitution guarantees “that all [people], when they form a social compact are equal in right: that all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; and they have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.”

We the people of Lane County understand that corporate constitutional rights, state preemption, and other civil laws and regulations that benefit corporations may be used to usurp the will of the people, thereby rendering the people of Lane County powerless to legislate matters of county concern, including the protection of our local food system and our natural communities.

Now, therefore, the people of Lane County hereby adopt this Ordinance, which shall be known and may be cited as the “Local Food System Ordinance of Lane County.”[5]

The full text of the ordinance that would be enacted by the approval of this measure is available here.



The Eugene-based Support Local Food Rights (SLFR) is the organization behind the initiative.[6]

According to the SLFR the following groups and organizations support the initiative:[6]

  • Horton Road Organics
  • Winter Green Farm
  • Mountain Rose Herbs
  • Eugene Magazine
  • Take Root magazine
  • Huerto de la Familia

An organization called GMO Free Oregon also supports all four 2014 local measures seeking to ban GMOs in Oregon.[7]

Arguments in favor

The SLFR argues that this ordinance protects the rights of local farmers and residents to operate free from contamination from genetically modified organisms. The group also proposes that the initiative would protect small farmers and persons from agribusiness, which "routinely uses their usurpation of the concept of 'rights' to override local efforts aimed at establishing economic and environmental health and autonomy."[6]

Similar measures

See also: Local GMO on the ballot

Local bans

Approveda Jackson County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 15-119 (May 2014)
Approveda Josephine County Genetically Modified Organism Ban, Measure 17-58 (May 2014)

Statewide labeling measures

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

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