Sunday, June 22, 2014

Oregon's GMO Sellout | The Progressive

Oregon's GMO Sellout | The Progressive:

"In a special session called for late September and early October 2013 to address Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System and education funding, legislators jammed through a bill that preempts Oregon counties from regulating their own agriculture and seeds.

The law, which Arkin and other critics call the “Monsanto Protection Act,” is eerily similar to a piece of “model” legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The new law and ALEC’s bill, entitled “Preemption of Local Agricultural Laws Act,” both contain this crucial passage: “A local government may not enact or enforce a . . . measure, including but not limited to an ordinance, regulation, control area or quarantine, to inhibit or prevent the production or use of agricultural seed, flower seed . . . or vegetable seed or products of agricultural seed, flower seed . . . or vegetable seed.”

 The effort to block local democratic control of food issues in Oregon began after family farmers and sustainable food advocates in Jackson County gathered enough signatures in January 2013 to put a local GMO ban on the ballot in the spring of 2014.

“Our main goal is to protect family farmers and keep local family farmers sustainable in the Rogue Valley,” says Elise Higley, a Jackson County farmer and director of Our Family Farms Coalition.

“Having the counties decide on our own is imperative because in every county the layout of the land is so different.”

“All of a sudden, there was tremendous activity in Salem,” says Oregon state Representative Peter Buckley (D-Ashland). Lobbying groups for agricultural interests, he added, “became very active. They immediately put a statewide preemption bill onto the legislative agenda.”"

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