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Jackson County GMO Cultivation Ban Isn’t Really About Contamination

May 22, 2014
A recent piece by Xiao Zhi Lim of the Genetic Literacy Project notably counters contamination arguments made by organic farmers in Jackson County, Oregon. Her article “Oregon counties vote on measures to ban GMO farming to guard organic farmers from ‘contamination’” examines how these false concerns have helped organic farmers stifle their competition.

In Oregon’s May 20 primary election, "the spotlight was on Jackson County" while residents passed Measure 15-119 which ultimately bans the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. Neighboring Josephine County passed a similar Measure 17-58 also in yesterday's primary election.
“The issue came to the fore in 2012, when organic farmers in the southern Oregon counties claimed that it was difficult to protect their certified organic seed crops from potential cross pollination from the GE (chard and beet) crops—what some refer to as ‘contamination.’”

However, to simply put it the “pollen won’t affect the plants in the ground” (AP). In fact, according to Lim, “to date there has been no incident of farmers in the United Sates losing organic certification because of inadvertent ‘contamination’.” When ready to be harvested, sugar beets are pulled up from under the soil. Its seed and roots are never exposed, making it impossible for pollen from a GM plant source to contaminate its organic counterpart. An organic sugar beet will remain organic even if it is exposed to pollen from a GM plant source.

See below more information and additional resources from the Genetic Literacy Project:

Visit the Vote No on Measure 15-119 to learn more on how this measure will reduce farmer’s choice and increase costs for Jackson County consumers. 

Statics: Jackson County residents voted 66.36 percent to 33.34 percent in favor of a ban and Josephine County residents were in favor of its similar measure there 57.9 percent to 42.1 percent.