NPR Story
8:09 am
Wed May 21, 2014

GMO Bans Win Big in Jackson, Josephine Counties

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 Oregon's 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.

“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,” Higley said.

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

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

The opposing campaign outspent measure supporters by more than three-to-one. Most of the opposition's 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.

This story first appeared on Jefferson Public Radio.

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