Readers' views for Dec. 14, 2012
GMO ban gains momentum
In your recent article on the proposed GMO ban in Benton County, Ore., you went on to talk with County Commissioner John Rachor of Jackson County about a similar GMO crop ban initiative in his county. That initiative was ruled a single issue and constitutional by his county district attorney in May. Rachor was quoted, "Ban backers said costs of enforcing the ban would be covered by citations. But, Rachor said, if no violations are uncovered, the county would be stuck with the costs of enforcement activities."
Those statements are simply misrepresentations of the ordinance. Compliance with the proposed GMO crop ban ordinance merely requires removal of the genetically engineered material. There is no civil penalty or fine for planting. If the ordinance passes, GMO farmers are given a year grace period to comply so they can harvest and sell crops with no economic impact.
However, failure to comply with the ordinance after a hearing with due process modeled after existing county procedures can have consequences, the same as any refusal to comply with any other county ordinance. If the county faces a recalcitrant offender it can remove the material and recover its cost. This is the same treatment that exists for noncompliance with existing Jackson County solid waste and abandoned and diseased pear orchard ordinances.
Eighty-eight farms in the Rogue and Applegate valleys have signed a written statement in support of a GMO crop ban. A couple of hundred businesses and organizations including three Granges have as well. ... In January, county election officials will receive 6,500 signatures putting a GMO crop ban on the May 2014 ballot.
I'm always mystified by politicians and organizations that ostensibly claim they "support farmers and their freedom" but somehow when a foreign corporation shows up in our valley and secretly checkerboard plants GMO sugar beets all over (in violation of its USDA APHIS permit) causing certified organic farmers to plow down or stop producing former lucrative seed crops in order to protect their markets, all of a sudden the victims get blamed for trying to reduce "our freedoms."