Vlieger told about 75 people at Rogue Community College on Wednesday that genetically modified crops have not lived up to the promise of increased yields, higher nutrient content and resistance to pests.
Instead, he said, the outcome is higher pesticide use, specifically a class called glyphostates popularized by the product Roundup N~ and far-reaching health effects.
“We’ve been told, sadly, that genetic engineering is the same thing that’s occurred in nature for thousands of years, but what happens in the lab will not work in nature,” Vlieger said. “How long do we need to wait for science to catch up with what’s happening?”
The issue is pertinent now, because Jackson County will vote in May whether to prohibit genetically modified crops. Some Midwest sugar beet growers joined the Oregon Farm Bureau and recently donated $75,000 to defeat the ballot measure.
Meanwhile, a nonprofit group called GMO Free Josephine County is gathering signatures to get a similar GMO ban on the May ballot in Josephine County, despite a state law passed last year prohibiting local bans on genetically modified crops.