Jackson County Ban on GE Crops Upheld in Court

The first major stage of the Monsanto-backed legal attempt to overturn Oregon’s Jackson County ban on genetically engineered (GE) crops was defeated when Federal Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke upheld the GE seed ban last week.

In May 2014, 66% of Jackson County voters supported a ban on growing of GE crops within the county.  This initial victory came despite nearly $1 million in spending by Monsanto and other chemical corporations against the bi-partisan campaign. In November 2014, two alfalfa growers raising Monsanto’s “Round-up Ready Alfalfa” filed suit against Jackson County stating that the ban violated Oregon’s Right to Farm Act.

Judge Clarke held that the county’s no-GMO seed ordinance could take effect next week, citing earlier state legislation that protected commercial farms from harm from other commercial enterprises. In this case, Jackson County organic farms were acting to prevent risk of GE contamination from commercial farms.

“Farmers have always been able to bring claims against other farmers for practices that cause actionable damage to their commercial agriculture products,” Clarke wrote. “The Ordinance, by contrast, is enacted pursuant to section 30.935 [of state law], and serves to prevent such damage before it happens.”

Our Family Farms Coalition said in email to AlterNet, “The court upheld the Ordinance on the grounds that it was intended to protect against damage to commercial agricultural products, which is allowed under the Right to Farm Act, and because it was expressly allowed by the Oregon Legislature…While this is an incredible victory for family farmers standing up to GMOs, we do know there is a real chance Monsanto and their ilk could appeal this decision so the battle is not really over yet. Also, the Plaintiffs’ claims that the GMO ban constitutes a constitutional ‘taking’ will now have to be litigated in the second phase of the case.”

Read the full article here.

Learn more about the Jackson County ban and Our Family Farms Coalition here.



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