Jackson County, Oregon, is a largely agricultural county, home to numerous small family farms, a thriving Grower's Market system (multiple markets in multiple towns), acres of pear orchards, vineyards and many commercial seed growers. We have a ballot measure for the upcoming May 20th election that would ban the growing of certain genetically modified crops. Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont and other multinational chemical companies have donated a combined $455,000 to defeat the measure, a huge buy of commercial time in a small market like ours. Yikes!
Measure 15-119 seeks to protect farmers from contamination by pollen drift from genetically modified crops. A local farmer had to destroy his entire crop of organic swiss chard seed because of trespassing pollen contamination from a nearby GMO sugar beet crop. Farmers in eastern Oregon lost sales of wheat to Japan after GMO wheat was discovered in a non-GMO field. Even the possibility that a crop might be contaminated can cause an entire crop to be rejected by buyers overseas where most countries forbid the growing of GMO crops. Areas that ban the growing of GMO crops like Santa Cruz, CA have actually seen an increase in agricultural profits because of food safety concerns.
Wall-to-wall commercials by those opposing the ban are loaded with misinformation (surprise!) that the ban will cost our financially strapped county millions in enforcement when it has been shown that other areas with bans have ZERO enforcement costs because no commercial farmer will spend the money to grow a banned crop and a seed supplier would not sell to farmers in a banned area. It is self-enforcing. Also very vocal are the libertarian farmers, who bray that "No one can tell me what I can grow on my own farm, dammit!" But pollen doesn't stay put and trespasses onto other peoples farms. GMO crops are supposed to have a four mile buffer but that is impossible in our narrow, windy valley. Pollen blows a long way, increasing the possibility that a farmer can be sued by Monsanto for "theft" if GMO crops are found on a farm that hasn't purchased seed, a problem that has already happed numerous times in other areas.
I have written to Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Ed Schultz, and Ring of Fire but can't get anyone with a national voice interested in our plight. The election is in less that two weeks and it is hard to push back against such well-financed opposition.
Our campaign is asking for a YES to Family Farms. Yes on 15-199. We would love any advice on how to get some big positive attention to this measure or just some good Kossack juju from my wonderful online community.
EDIT: From the Family Farms Coalition website:
Our Family Farms Coalition Asks You to Vote YES on 15-119
Protect Family Farmers and Our Economy
THE FAMILY FARMS MEASURE 15-119 PROTECTS FAMILY FARMERS from the serious risk that their crops will be contaminated by genetically engineered crops that are patented and controlled by large out-of-state chemical corporations. There’s no practical way to stop genetically engineered pollen and seed from trespassing onto traditional farms that have been here for years. And when a traditional crop becomes contaminated with genetically engineered pollen, it can be impossible for the farmer to sell.
PROTECTS OUR DRINKING WATER AND KIDS Genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011.1 These chemicals can end up in our water and our children's bodies. This increased pesticide use has also led to the evolution of high-impact Superweeds2. The measure will help prevent Superweeds from becoming a major problem in the Rogue Valley.
PROTECTS FAMILY FARMERS FROM PATENT LAWSUITS by Monsanto and the other chemical corporations. These corporations have threatened many innocent farmers with patent infringement lawsuits after their patented pollen or seed has trespassed onto family farmers' property.
15-119 Ordinance to Ban Growing of Some “Genetically-Engineered” (defined) Plants
Question: Should Ordinance Ban Growing of “Genetically-Engineered” Plants (defined) in Jackson County and Allow County/Private Persons to Compel Enforcement?
Summary: This ordinance would ban any person from propagating, cultivating, raising or growing “genetically-engineered” (defined) plants in Jackson County.
The Ordinance also:
· Requires affected persons to harvest, destroy or remove all genetically engineered plants within 12 months of the enactment of the ordinance;
· Provides exemptions for certain health, educational, scientific and medical research institutions if activities are conducted under secure, indoor laboratory conditions;
· Allows for inspections of private property by County code enforcement officers after obtaining a search warrant;
· Allows for enforcement of the ordinance by the County and by private persons or groups through the State court system;
· Provides for contested hearings and appeals for alleged violations;
· Allows the County to recover the cost of abatement from the property owner or the person causing the violation;
· Defines the terms “genetically engineered,” “organic agriculture,” and “organic;”
Here is a link to the measure:
And the Family Farms Coalition website: