Last week two Oregon counties voted overwhelmingly to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. The initiatives in Josephine and Jackson counties, which border California, passed by as much as a two to one margin. Ian Tolleson, Oregon Farm Bureau Government Affairs Specialist, gives the Farm Bureau stance.
Tolleson says the Oregon Farm Bureau is unhappy with the “farmer vs. farmer” attitude that colored the county votes. He also explains that there was some falsehoods in the campaigns for the ban. He says, first, it ran heavily on a ‘save the family farm’ platform, when in fact even the farms using bio-technology are family farms. Second, he says, the pro-ban side used incorrect assumptions about GMO cross-pollination.
Oregon has a right-to-farm law and last year the state legislature passed a law preempting local governments from regulating genetically engineered crops. However, since Jackson County’s GMO measure was already approved for the ballot, it was exempted from that bill. That means while Jackson County’s measure is enforceable, the ban is not currently enforceable in Josephine County.