GMO Bans Win Big in Jackson, Josephine Counties

May 21, 2014

Rogue Valley farmer Jared Watters supported Measure 15-119. The ban on growing GMO crops passed with 67 percent of the vote.
Credit Liam Moriarty/JPR News

The proponents of measures to ban the cultivation of genetically-modified crops in Jackson and Josephine Counties have pulled off solid wins.

Despite well-funded industry opposition, voters in Jackson and Josephine Counties have approved the GMO bans. The Jackson County measure won by a 2-to-1 margin. In Josephine County, the measure won by 58 to 42 percent.

Elise Higley, an organic farmer and director of Our Family Farms Coalition in Jackson County, says the grassroots effort paid off.

Elise Higley: “You know, the farmers are what really put together the campaign and we’ve never done anything like this, so it was a first time experience and I think we’re really glad to have it done.”

The GMO bans were opposed by most mainstream agricultural groups in Oregon and the No campaign was run by the Oregon Farm Bureau. Spokesman Ian Tolleson …

Ian Tolleson: “I would have to say that unfortunately, ideology defeated sound science and common sense in this election.”

The opposing campaign outspent measure supporters by more than three-to-one. Most of the oppositions’ cash came from out-of-state agribusiness interests, including biotech giants Syngenta and Monsanto.

Despite the victory, the Josephine county measure faces an uncertain future. State lawmakers last session passed a law that prevents local jurisdictions from passing GMO bans. The Jackson County measure was grandfathered because it was already in process when the law was passed.