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Farmers Fear GMO Contamination

Farmer's Feat GMO ContaminationMEDFORD, Ore. — Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) were the bud of a rally in downtown Medford Saturday. Dozens of people were speaking out against the growth of GMO’s in Jackson County. Voters will decide on the issue during the local election in May of 2014.

Chris Hardy grows chard seed. He believes he will lose customers if his plants get contaminated. “If GM technology gets into our crop, our seed crop is worth nothing,” Hardy said.

For crops like chard, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires a 4-mile buffer between a GMO field and a non-GMO field to avoid cross-pollination. But according to local farmers, it isn’t enforced in the Rogue Valley.

Non-GMO farmers are forced to protect and test their crops, knowing that a contaminated batch could ruin contracts with buyers. Participants in Saturday’s rally want to change that.

“It’s crucially important what happens in Jackson County now. It will have a shining effect on the state of Oregon,” said participant Gregg Marchese.

The measure to ban GMO farming in Jackson County would also require existing crops to be either harvested or destroyed. It would allow exceptions for health, educational, or scientific purposes.