GMO Cross-Pollination Crisis in Oregon

Two years ago, Jackson County, Oregon had banned GMOs. Last month we reported on two farmers who were allowed to complete the lifecycle of their GMO crops that were in the ground when the ban passed. Many Oregonian, non-GMO proponents have hoped more GMO bans will follow suit in surrounding counties, but the Oregon Legislature passed a law in 2013 to stop that very thing from happening.

The law barred local governments outside Jackson County from being able to decide their own rules on genetically-engineered crops. Instead, legislators touted a statewide approach they hoped would figure out how farmers who use genetically modified organisms can exist alongside those who don’t. Former Gov. John Kitzhaber created a committee of farm advocates, organic growers, biotech companies and other interests with a sizeable budget, but no compromises were ever reached, no rules ever agreed upon.

GMO Cross-pollination crisis in Oregon continues

Bruce Schulz is one of many Oregonian farmers who wonder what the outcome of GMO legislation will be. Click pic to see original image.

Though the endeavor to bring different viewpoints together is admirable, the end result is not surprising. Ideally, state-wide agreement on GMO cultivation would be best, but if an agreement can’t be reached, what’s the solution?

Some farmers are again pushing for that county-by-county approach. A bill for the short session in February, introduced by Rep. Paul Holvey – D, would repeal sections of the bill that stops counties from making local GMO rules. Family farmer groups are supporting it.

But the agricultural interests that worked to pass the bill, including the Oregon Farm Bureau, plan to strongly oppose any change to the “pre-emption” law, as it was called at the time.

“We want to preserve the right of farmers to make decisions on their own farms, without every single entity in the state getting to determine what farmers can and can’t raise on their farms,” said farm bureau president Barry Bushue.

So the GMO cross-pollination crisis in Oregon continues, but hopefully a state-wide consensus will be reached soon.

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Author: renezimbelman

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