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Two Counties in Oregon Ban Planting of GE Crops
May 21st, 2014

Coast to Coast Victories for the Food Movement as Political Power Swells

Voters in both Josephine County and Jackson County, Oregon overwhelmingly approved ballot measures to prohibit the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the counties. The Jackson inititiave passed 66-34, while the Josephine initiative passed 58-42.

The victories come despite a wave of opposition funding from the chemical industry, topping out at nearly $1 million in out-of-state spending. Center for Food Safety (CFS) has been an ardent supporter of the initiatives and congratulates the people of Jackson and Josephine Counties.

“This is a landmark victory for the families and farmers of Jackson and Josephine Counties,” said George Kimbrell, Portland-based senior attorney for Center for Food Safety. “Farmers have the right to sow the crop of their choice, free from the risk of contamination. Where the federal government has failed, local efforts like this are taking action. The tide is turning towards a sustainable food future and GE-free zones are a vital step.”

“Tonight family farmers stood up for our basic right to farm,” says Elise Higley, Our Family Farms Coalition campaign director. “The federal government and state government have twiddled their thumbs as Monsanto and the other chemical giants have been allowed to sell a product that spreads onto family farms and can contaminate the seeds we depend on for next year’s crop,” added Higley, who owns a 100-acre farm in Jackson County.

“These victories represent a turning point in the food movement. Just two weeks ago, the Governor of Vermont signed a historic law mandating that GE foods sold in Vermont be labeled. Across the country, members of the food movement are engaging in the political process and demanding their rights as consumers and as citizens,” said Rebecca Spector, who spearheads state labeling initiatives for Center for Food Safety.

Earlier this month, a Citizens’ Initiative Review (CIR) of the ban concluded that farms in Jackson County are at “serious” risk of contamination by GE crops. The review also concluded that the initiative would not incur significant enforcement costs.

Center for Food Safety has supported the Jackson County effort extensively throughout the process by providing legal and scientific expertise in the drafting and campaign. CFS attorneys testified in support of the measure earlier this year, and Center for Food Safety Action Fund provided funding to the initiative.

“The people of Jackson and Josephine Counties have given the rest of the country a model – and the inspiration – to protect local communities. This is just the beginning,” added Spector.

Other counties with GE crop bans, also supported by CFS, include Santa Cruz County, CA, Trinity County, CA, Marin County, CA, Mendocino County, CA, San Juan County, WA, and numerous cities.  Hawaii’s Big Island and Oahu have banned GE taro and coffee.

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