Southern Oregon residents decisively vote to banish GMOs from Jackson and Josephine counties
May 21, 2014
By Josh Altic
Despite the deep pockets of national bio-tech corporations and farm bureaus across Oregon who support genetically modified crops, voters in Jackson County and Josephine County approved both Measure 15-119 and Measure 17-58, banning the cultivation of genetically engineered crops within the county boundaries. Six of the largest agro-businesses in the country - Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, Bayer CropScience LP, BASF Plant Science and Dow AgroScience - joined farm bureaus, sugar beet growers and other wealthy companies and organizations to create a million dollar campaign against the GMO bans. Voters, however, were unconvinced, and, according to initial vote counts, approved the Jackson County ban by a 66 to 34 percent margin and the Josephine County ban by a 58 to 42 percent margin.
Opponents are convinced that these measures will hurt the farming industry and the economy as a whole in Southwest Oregon and that the prohibition goes 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."
Proponents of the ban 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, are looking forward to the benefits they will see from the measures and are 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."