Last May, Jackson County Oregon voters passed a law to ban the growing of GMO crops. This Saturday, that law came into effect.
The law is the first of its kind in the state of Oregon though similar measures have been passed in various counties in California and in San Juan County, Washington. These kinds of laws have proven quite challenging to pass in recent years, which some believe is due to Monsanto’s lobbyists, lawyers, and others who support the use of GMOs.
The Jackson County ban did not come without opposition. A lawsuit was filed against it by farmers who were growing GMO alfalfa, claiming that the ban obstructs the Right to Farm ordinance. An Oregon judge refused to strike down the ban and the law, therefore, came into effect. However, with the lawsuit still pending and the GMO farmers potentially being compensated $4.2 million, many officials have agreed not to enforce the law until the case is resolved.
Moreover, it has been estimated that about 2,000 to 3,000 acres of land in the county are used to farm genetically modified crops, thus posing another obstacle when it comes to actually enforcing the law.
The final concern is the idea that the ban allows for “third-party complaints,” meaning that if a resident suspects a farmer of growing GMO crops, the resident can ask the city to enforce the ban. If the city fails to act, the resident can then open a lawsuit against the farmer, as pointed out by the Register-Guard.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see how the GMO ban plays out in Jackson County. Meanwhile, the law has brought about an interesting debate. First, we need to decide whether or not we should be using GMOs to begin with. Second, if we decide we should not be using them, we must determine whether or not the law is the best avenue to ensure that genetically modified crops are not grown and sold.
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