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Fear of contamination drives petition

Seed grower worries about GMO contamination.

Two years ago, Chris Hardy found sugar beet seed plots on two sides of ground he farmed near Ashland. Hardy, like many small farmers in the Rogue Valley, is into seed production himself. He’s organic.

“Our seed contract ... had a clause that it was terminated if Roundup Ready Beets” caused contamination, Hardy recalled last week at a community meeting promoting passage of a Jackson County ban on GMO plants. Rather than let his crop go to seed, then face GMO testing, Hardy tilled it under. He said the commercial beet seed contractor “didn’t let us know” about the plots.

The proposed ordinance, Measure 15-119 on county ballots in May, was drafted by a subcommittee of GMO Free Jackson County, which is associated with a statewide effort primarily backing a GMO food labeling initiative. Supporters gathered enough signatures to qualify the 11-page ordinance for this spring’s election.

Hardy is an director of GMO Free Jackson County, which is now supporting the coalition urging a “yes” vote on the GMO ban.

— Tam Moore



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