Activists Protest GMO “Dirty Money”

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MEDFORD, Ore. – A wall of dollar bills stands outside the Jackson County Elections Office. It’s part of a Tuesday morning protest, using 800 bills representing the roughly $800,000 spent to stop a genetically modified crop ban.

“This is what’s coming in right now to Jackson County via these big chemical companies,” said Elise Higley, Campaign Manager with the Our Family Farms Coalition.

Of that money, about three quarters comes from out of state.

Supporters of the ban say the funds are an effort to protect fields leased by companies like Syngenta and Monsanto.

“It’s making a difference to a big chemical company, and that’s why they’re pouring the money into the campaign,” said Higley.

But while most of the money comes from outside the county, not all GMO crops in the Rogue Valley are owned by big companies.

Farmers like Ron Bjork, while representing a minority in the county, are being asked to get rid of all GMO crops within a year should the measure pass.

“You’ll have to at least plow it out, and then probably have to spray after that to get rid of it,” said Bjork. “Then you have the loss of income for really almost two years.”

For Bjork, losing a field of GMO alfalfa could mean losing a crop that’s good for six or seven years.

But supporters of the ban say not all crops are so hard to replace.

“[Farmers] have to buy their seed every year,” said Higley. “So they just wouldn’t buy that seed a year from now and they would start growing non-genetically engineered crops.”

While both sides wait on voters to make their choice, Bjork says the issue won’t be put to rest either way.

“That’s probably going to end up in a lawsuit,” said Bjork. “It’s just something that we can’t afford out here the way I see it. At least I can’t afford it.”


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  1. Jeanne Chouard says:

    The reporter in this piece failed to point out that local farmers have already had to plow under nongmo crops due to possible contamination of nearby plots of genetically engineered sugar beets planted by Syngenta, a Swiss multinational chemical company. Local nongmo farmers are already losing money. Additionally, the entire state of Oregon lost more than a million dollars in trade when genetically engineered wheat contaminated our states wheat crop, resulting in an import ban against Oregon wheat by huge markets overseas. A quarter of million dollars was lost in Southern Oregon due to the news of this genetic engineered contamination. We can’t afford another contamination. Finally, Mr. Bjork should actually save money by buying nongmo seed to plant and will not have to sign contracts with chemical companies. Recent studies have found genetic engineering is driving up the cost of seed.

  2. BarbM says:

    To KDRV: Please STOP using the term “activists” to characterize the proponents of Measure 15-119! The use of that term is a gross misrepresentation of the thousands of individuals who want to secure the economy survival of Jackson County. We are mothers, fathers, teens, nurses, lawyers, restaurant owners, river trip guides, waitresses, grandmothers, small business owners, and more…who understand that GE crops and conventional crops cannot coexist without putting 150 farmers out of business. That represents a potential loss of up to $70 million dollars in revenue for the county that supports schools, roads, police and fire protection, parks, clean water and more. I really resent your continued use of the activist term and serves only as an “us” and “them”.

  3. Andrew Kubik says:

    This election reminds me a lot of when Meg Whitman ran against Jerry Brown a few years ago. She had over $ 80 million ( a California record) and still lost big because people saw through her bull and resented all the money she was throwing around.’ Good Neighbor Farmers’ is even worse since sooo much of their money isn’t even from in-state. Carpetbaggers; pure and simple.

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