Organic Farmers Score New Victory in 'David and Goliath' GMO Fight

no-gmo.jpg

Jackson County, Oregon wins new protections against cultivation of genetically engineered crops

Organic farmers are racking up new victories in the fight against 'franken-food', as a growing number of counties line up to bar genetically engineered (GE) crop cultivation throughout the country.

A federal judge in Jackson County, Oregon recently upheld a consent decree that designates the region a "GE-free zone," a ruling which officially protects the decree from appeal, granting new protections to farmers, consumers, and the environment.

That means organic and traditional farms in Jackson County will be protected from chemicals produced by Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, and other biotech giants. The ruling follows the passage of other similar ordinances in at least eight U.S. counties, including in Hawaii, California, and Washington, along with another Oregon county. As the Washington Post pointed out on Monday, more bans are on the horizon, with Costilla County in Colorado pushing for its own GE-free zones.

"GE-Free Zones like Jackson County are important to the future of our food because they allow farmers to grow traditional and organic crops without risk of transgenic contamination," said George Kimbrell, senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a consumer advocacy group which served as legal counsel to the farmers.

The judge's ruling, which came in late December, approved the decree that was issued in response to a case brought by two GE farmers last February. With the financial support of the biotechnology lobby, the farmers challenged a 2014 ordinance that prohibited GE crop cultivation, seeking to overturn the ban on the grounds that it violated Oregon law.

However, Federal Judge Mark D. Clarke came down on the side of organic and traditional farmers, ruling that the ban was allowed under the state's Right to Farm Act.

"U.S. farmers and consumers have a right to say no to Monsanto’s damaging and pesticide-driven business model," Kimbrell said in December.

Elise Hingley, executive director of the Our Family Farms Coalition (OFFC), also said, "After years of fighting, farmers like myself can finally go to bed at night knowing our crops will be protected from GE-contamination."

Under the terms of the decree, the GE farmers will be able to keep their limited crop of alfalfa in the ground for the remainder of its useful life. However, they will not be able to plant additional crops, and must enact safeguards against cross-contamination, which means Jackson County is on its way to being "a GE-free sanctuary," CFS said in a statement.

As Kimbrell told the Post on Monday, "Until we have those restrictions on a federal level, until we have liability on the patent holder for contamination, then we need these zones in order to have any alternative to the current dominant paradigm of the GE crop systems."

Jackson County's case "is important in that it makes clear that farmers growing traditional crops have the right to adopt local laws to protect their crops against GE contamination," said attorney Lia Comerford with the Earthrise Law Center. "This has always been a David and Goliath battle and we are very pleased Jackson County’s ban on GE crops will stand."

This article was originally published on Common Dreams


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Leaderboard

1
+204sc earned social capital
2
+192sc earned social capital
3
+157sc earned social capital
4
+152sc earned social capital
5
+133sc earned social capital
6
+129sc earned social capital
7
+117sc earned social capital
8
+109sc earned social capital
9
+96sc earned social capital
10
+86sc earned social capital
11
+85sc earned social capital
12
+85sc earned social capital
13
+82sc earned social capital
14
+80sc earned social capital
15
+79sc earned social capital
16
+78sc earned social capital
17
+72sc earned social capital
18
+70sc earned social capital
19
+70sc earned social capital
20
+70sc earned social capital