Jackson County in Oregon still has a GMO ban in place. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke upheld the injunction that is in place determining that the ban on GE crops is not preempted by the state’s Right to Farm Act. The ordinance, which bans the cultivation, production and distribution of GE crops will be implemented on June 5th 2015 and was passed by the county with 66%.
“We have always felt this was a strong case,” said Tom Buchele, attorney with Earthrise Law Center, “but it was very encouraging to get such a strong and well-written opinion that affirms what we have argued since the beginning: communities have the ability under the Right to Farm Act to protect traditional agricultural crops from contamination from GMOs.”
The ban may be a way for local regions to bypass the Dark Act, which is still under consideration by the relevant senate committee. The judge rejected the challenge to overturn the ban instead holding that Jackson County’s ban was allowed under the law since it was intended to “protect against damage to commercial agriculture products, and therefore it falls into the exception to the Right to Farm Act.” The Court’s decision was based on a legislative exception intending to exempt the Jackson County ban when it adopted Senate Bill 863, the state preemption law, which was aimed at GE crops during the 2013 special legislative session.
“We are elated and could not have hoped for a better outcome,” said Elise Higley, a Jackson County farmer and the Director of Our Family Farms Coalition. “Family farmers should not have to live in fear that our farms will be contaminated by genetically engineered crops. Monsanto can spend all the money they want fighting us at the ballot box and in the courts, but in the end we cannot let them and the other chemical corporations behind GMOs threaten the foundation of our farms and our food supply.”
“This important decision protects the farmers of Jackson County, but also will stand as a precedent for the rights of farmers and communities across the United States to create GMO-free zones to protect the future of our food,” said George Kimbrell, attorney with the Center for Food Safety and counsel in the case.
“No farmer should ever have to tear up their crops like myself and others did for fear they had been contaminated by GMO pollen. Family farmers know well that GMO contamination could quickly destroy a family farm, but it was so encouraging to have a federal court support farmers’ right to defend ourselves against GMOs, said Jackson County farmer Chris Hardy.
Center for food safety