Note: The measure banning GMO crops from Rogue Valley has passed, winning broad support at the ballot box.
-The GJEP Team
By Jane Ayers, May 20, 2014. Source: Reader Supported News
Matt Suhr and Aluna Michelle, owners of HappyDirt Veggie Patch in Medford, Oregon, are dedicated to producing naturally grown, chemical-free food – a few miles from a farm owned by Swiss biotech company Syngenta that grows GMO seed. Photo: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone/Envision
Will there be peace in the valley? According to local Rogue Valley farmers in Southern Oregon, only if Monsanto and Syngenta farmers stop planting GMO crops that threaten their livelihoods. A Jackson County ballot measure, #15-119, is set for a vote on Tuesday, May 20th, in Southern Oregon. The measure would protect some of the nation’s purest non-GMO seed supply from ruin. Southern Oregon is considered in the top five of seed producing regions in the world, so much is riding on this county vote. The ballot measure bans “any person from propagating, cultivating, raising or growing genetically engineered [defined] plants in Jackson County” and would require any GMO plants to be harvested, destroyed, or removed within 12 months. Our Family Farms Coalition and GMO Free Jackson County have pushed for the rallying of Non-GMO: YES on Measure 15-119. However, Monsanto and Syngenta recently spent over $800,000 trying to defeat the Rogue Valley’s local farmers’ initiative.
In this ideal farming valley, the local support is extremely noticeable (except for the editorial board of the local newspaper, Mail Tribune, which was recently bought by a new company). A few days ago, even Jackson County itself claimed its support for the farmers’ non-GMO measure. Hundreds of local businesses, restaurants, and farmers are on-board to claim this valley as non-GMO. Even the area’s preachers, rabbis, and native elders have had events focusing on the morality of introducing genetically engineered organisms, thus messing with Creator’s “sacred seed.” Also of concern is the issue of protecting the area’s water from pesticides that are used with genetically engineered crops.
The Rogue Valley is also home of Harry and David’s, and also Amy’s Organics processing factory, which ranks high in worldwide sales of organic soups and frozen dinners. Amy’s Organics and even Whole Foods have expressed to local farmers the desire to purchase more organic vegetables from this valley, to ensure freshness, and to lower their trucking costs by buying more local produce. In addition, hundreds of local restaurants and food businesses have recently joined together in the Food Integrity Project, which is labeling their businesses as non-GMO dining, with different percentages of their menus using foods that are non-GMO.