Organic Farmers Win GMO Fight in Jackson County, Oregon

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,” George Kimbrell, senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety (CFS), said.

The judge’s ruling, which came in late December 2015, 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.

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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.

In December 2015, Kimber said that the U.S consumers and farmers have full rights to say “no” to Monsanto’s pesticidal and damaging business model.

The executive director of Our Family Farms Coalition, Elise Hingley said that after fighting for years, me and other farmers can go to bed in relax mood, knowing that our plants are safe from GE-contamination.

According to CFS, Jackson County is going to become a GE-free sanctuary because of new rullings. As per the terms, the GE farmers can only grow alfalfa in the ground and they need to apply safeguards against cross-contamination. They are not allowed to grow any additional crops.

“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,” Kimbrell told the Post on Monday.

Earthrise Law Center attorney Lia Comerford said:

“The was a war between Goliath and David, and we are very happy that Jackson County’s decided to keep the ban on GE crops. This case is important because it makes sure that planters who are using traditional ways in their garden have the right to adopt local laws to secure their yeilds from GE contamination.

Read original article here: http://ecowatch.com/2016/01/07/jackson-county-gmo-free/

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