There are few things more dangerous than the things that we know and passionately believe but are not true.

As evidence we paraphrase some testimony given last week during a hearing on a measure before the Oregon Legislature to pre-empt local governments from banning biotech crops or other agriculture practices.

A man from Lancaster, in Lane County, told legislators that sometimes the “biotech fumes” in the countryside around his home are so strong that his family has to drive around in their car to get fresh air.

There are a great many smells in the country, but we have never encountered an odor attributable to biotechnology. We suggest the witness smells the application of pesticides on a field, or perhaps liquid manure or anhydrous ammonia fertilizers.

Another opponent of the measure shared with legislators how gluten in flour and baked goods is making her sick.

Some people are allergic to gluten, and other have cut it out of their diet as a matter of choice. But the gluten content of wheat is not the result of biotechnology and would not be changed by local regulation of GMOs.

Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in wheat, rye, barley, rice and other similar cereal grains. Plant scientists have developed varieties with greater gluten content, but have used standard breeding techniques to achieve their results.

Yet another woman pleaded with legislators to allow local control of GMOs so that gylphosate herbicide won’t fall on her organic lettuce.

Glyphosate — sold by GMO developer Monsanto under the Roundup tradename — is one of the most common herbicides used in agriculture, and is also popular with homeowners.

While many GMO crops are engineered to be glyphosate resistant, it’s widely used in the production of non-GMO crops. A local ban on GMO crops would not stop the use of Roundup.

Though we don’t agree with them, there are proponents of local control over GMOs who have legitimate and somewhat more plausible concerns. But we think the testimony last week raises serious questions about the wisdom of allowing 51 percent of voters to hold sway over their neighbors’ livelihoods.

Beware the tyranny of the masses armed with their passion and their “facts.” What they think they know could put you out of business.

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