NEAR APPLEGATE, Ore. — The measure to ban genetically modified crops in Josephine County could be in for a bumpy ride if it gets passed in May.
Even though it is legal to put the measure on the ballot, under state law it’s illegal to ban GMOs in any Oregon County except for Jackson.
Whistling Duck Farm is just one GMO free farm, but ballot measure 17-58 is trying to make all farms in Josephine County go GMO free.
“This is our chance to let our local voice be heard,” said Mary Middleton, GMO Free Josephine County campaign manager. “This measure will protect our food our farms and our families in Josephine County.”
The problem is it’s illegal for the county to go GMO free. Senate bill 863 was recently signed into law. It restricts any county from banning genetically modified crops, except for Jackson County, because their measure was on the ballot before January 31.
It’s not illegal for Josephine County to put the GMO free measure on the ballot, but nothing will change if it gets passed.
“Well it would be nothing more than an advisory vocal… it wouldn’t be a source of law,” said State Senator Jeff Kruse.
It will be handed over to the court, and they will decide where to go from there.
“I do anticipate a lawsuit, and I do anticipate that the petitioners will bring an action, and probably name Josephine County as well as the state as defendants,” said Steve Rich, Josephine County legal councilor.
“It’s really important to maintain local sovereignty,” said Middleton. “A lot of local governments believe firmly that it is our right to maintain the local control of agriculture decisions. Citizens of Josephine County should have the right to make these types of decisions and protect themselves.”
GMO free activists plan to enact the home rule charter that would give voters the power to adopt and amend their own county government, but the county legal counsel said that will only work if it’s only a matter of county concern, and this is a matter of both state and county concern.