ASHLAND, Ore. – The F.B.I. is now investigating what it is calling “economic sabotage” after two plots of land growing genetically modified crops were destroyed in Jackson County.
According to the F.B.I. someone went on to the farm land on the nights of June 8 and 11 and destroyed one thousand sugar beet plants in one location, and about 5,500 in another.
The plots were being rented by local farmers to the company Syngenta, and were growing genetically-modified sugar beet plants. The owner of one of the plots in Ashland said he has never seen this kind of damage before.
The F.B.I. is considering this a violation of federal law, because it involved damage to a commercial agricultural enterprise. Ron Bjork, of the Jackson County Farm Bureau, said he does not want to see local farmers targeted for growing GMOs on their land.
“The farmer has a right to raise his crop as long as it’s legal, and I know all these crops were legal,” he said.
Members of the group “GMO-Free Jackson County,” who have campaigned against GMOs in local farms, said they do not agree that the modified sugar beets were being grown, but do not condone this type of destruction.
“That’s not the way that we should be proceeding ahead with this issue in Jackson County,” said member Chris Hardy.
The Oregon Farm Bureau is offering a $1,000 reward, and the group “Oregonians for Food and Shelter” is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of whoever damaged the crops. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the F.B.I at 541-773-2942.