Sunday, April 13, 2014

Josephine County in Southern Oregon - VOTE YES ON MEASURE 17-58

Please STAND UP in solidarity with Josephine County, Oregon, on May 7. We are asking people nation-wide and globally to show solidarity on this one day as we attempt to draw attention to a dire situation that is occurring in our county right now.

Josephine County in Southern Oregon is one of two counties that together have been a refuge for seed growers who want to grow seeds with genetic integrity. The isolation of our beautiful Rogue Valley, with its myriad narrow tributary watershed valleys and protective mountains and foothills, has made this one of the premier seed-growing regions in the world – a region that has been fairly protected from biotech intrusion and genetic contamination. The narrow spaces that typify our valley bottoms also keep our farms fairly small (many are less than 20 acres), which by nature predisposes them toward biodiversity and natural farming methods. This, in turn, translates into a much higher employment rate per-acre compared to larger mono-cropped farms.

But our local farms are in danger. Syngenta (a multinational, multi-billion dollar Swiss chemical company this is legally prohibited from growing its genetically engineered seeds in Switzerland) has chosen our valley to create a checkerboard of “test” plots for their GMO (genetically modified organism) sugar beets. The pollen from these beets threatens the seed crops of local chard and beet growers. We are also now faced with GMO corn and alfalfa being grown in remote areas, putting our world-class corn seed growers at risk, and threatening our ecosystem with escaped biotech alfalfa.

To address these threats an all-volunteer, grassroots campaign has successfully placed on our May ballot an initiative to ban GMO crops in the county. Public sentiment seems to be strong in our favor, but we are the proverbial David in battle against Goliath.

• Over a million dollars have been contributed from out-of-state organizations including Monsanto, Syngenta, the Farm Bureau, and similar groups for the sole purpose of defeating our measure and a similar measure in neighboring Jackson County.
• The state of Oregon passed a law last year – just after our ballot initiative was approved – to preempt our local authority over agricultural issues. Our county is the ONLY county standing against this unfair law, on behalf of all Oregonians.
• Most media attention on this issue is being focused on Jackson County, which has a larger population. Unfortunately, this means that Josephine County is operating in a sort of media-shadow.

We have been described by supporters in other states as “the little GMO-free movement that could” and “one badass little county in Oregon.” And while this is all true (we are not ashamed to acknowledge our “badassed-ness”), the truth is that we have very little funding and outside media attention. Don’t get us wrong: we are not complaining. In fact, if we need to win this battle with $5 contributions from grandmas and babysitters, then our victory will be that much sweeter considering who our deep-pocketed opponents are. But we all know that money speaks, and our well-funded foes are speaking very loudly.

Here’s where your group comes in. Beginning on Monday, May 5, we are asking you to begin requesting that your social media followers on Facebook and Twitter change their profile pictures on May 7, using the attached STAND UP graphic. The message can mean to them whatever they want it to mean – perhaps they want to STAND UP for First-Nation or Aboriginal peoples, or maybe they will STAND UP for the plight of a beleaguered endangered species. It can have intimate meaning to each person, but it will show solidarity with our grassroots campaign to protect our local economy, beautiful rivers, and world-class seed growers.

We also ask that you please publish, along with the STAND UP graphic, a link to our website: We need contributions to our campaign to help us leverage the value of people-based marketing and networking as well as to hopefully purchase some radio and/or TV ad space to counter the big-money lies that are already flooding our airwaves.

For a great taste of what The Little GMO-Free Movement that Could has already achieved through all-volunteer input, please also take a moment to enjoy this wonderful video that we are using for social-media advertising. 

Will you STAND UP with us on May 7?


• Against outside corporate money
• For local control
• For all Oregonians
• For safe farms and families

VOTE YES ON MEASURE 17-58 May 20, 2014

Thank you!
Daniel Bowden 
Co- Chairperson, GMO Free Josephine County

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