Members of the agriculture industry expressed dismay this week as two Oregon counties adopted bans on genetically modified (GM) crops. State law won’t allow local governments including Josephine County to regulate GM crops, The Associated Press reports. But Jackson County is exempt because its measure moved to the ballot before the state law took effect.
"We’re not done with this," says Barry Bushue, Oregon Farm Bureau president, in an interview with AgriTalk radio host Mike Adams. "The fight is over but the debate, the battle, the war is not. We’ll be looking at our options over the next couple of days to see what we can do to protect those farmers that have been so egregiously harmed by this."
Nearly 66% of Jackson County voters moved to adopt the GM ban, while 58% did so in Josephine County, the group Our Family Farms Coalition reported on its website.
"With this inspiring vote by people of every political perspective, our communities have sent a message to the country and the world, that we will no longer accept the threats of contamination that genetically engineered crops pose to family farmers," the group wrote in a thank-you note posted to its website after the vote. "Thank you to our volunteers, supporters and the voters for standing up to the out-of-state political bull and doing what's right for family farmers."
Former organic inpector Mischa Popoff, now policy adviser at The Heartland Institute, described the votes as "horrible news."
"I’m proud to say my family’s farm was certified organic back in 1993," Popoff tells AgriTalk. "I became an organic inspector in 1998, so I’ve got a bit of history here. Let me just say that in the organic industry, our goal is never to deny rights to our neighbors. Our goal is simply to stake out what we did. To say, ‘Well, we don’t use GMOs, we don’t use Roundup,’ and then let consumers decide—it’s a free market—if organic is the way to go." He says that there is no evidence GM crops contaminate organic crops and that USDA’s national organic program contains no reference to such contamination.
Many Oregon farmers grow perennial crops such as Roundup Ready alfalfa and are now faced with difficult decisions, Bushue adds.
"We had a young gal here that’s taking up farming with her father full-time, and I watched her as this whole thing came apart," he says. "She said to me afterward, ‘What will I do now? I have a perennial crop in the ground, we’ve had it in the ground for a year, and I now have a year to decide how to deal with it.’ It’s heartrending, frankly. I think the biggest disappointment is that there’s a group of people who have decided that it’s OK to destroy their neighbors’ livelihoods, and that’s really what this comes down to."
Click the play button below to hear Bushue’s complete interview with AgriTalk:
Click the play button below to hear Popoff’s complete interview with AgriTalk:
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