A local ban on the cultivation of GMOs has been struck down by the courts in Oregon.
A judge ruled on Monday that a ban on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Josephine County, Oregon cannot be enforced, because it has been pre-empted by state law. In 2014, voters in two Oregon counties, Josephine and Jackson, voted to ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops in those counties. Although the Jackson County proposal made it onto the ballot, the state lawmakers passed a law disallowing local government from regulating biotech crops before the Josephine County proposal made it onto the ballot.
Two farmers in the county brought suit claiming that they were unable to plant 100 acres of sugar beets on leased farmland due to the ban. Most of the arguments in court were whether those farmers had the legal standing to actually bring the lawsuit, but the judge also ruled that they did.
The ban on the cultivation of GMOs in Jackson County, Oregon still stands, because it was on the ballot before the state law pre-empting such measures was passed. In 2015, a magistrate issued a ruling upholding the ban. There is currently a proposal circulating for a similar ban in Lane County, Oregon. Unfortunately, if passed, it would also require a lawsuit to declare it unenforceable.
No word yet on whether the groups supporting the Josephine County ban will appeal.
This is definitely welcome news! It’s also a nice break for farmers in Oregon, who have been set upon over and over again it seems. In addition to the countywide cultivation bans, a statewide ballot proposal to require mandatory labeling of GMO crops failed there in 2014. Unfortunately, these actions have real consequences and they actually do hurt farm families.
Cheers to the judge for ruling in favor of farmers, science, and progress!