A federal judge in southern Oregon on May 29 rejected a request by two alfalfa farms to block Jackson County’s ban on genetically engineered crops.
The decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke could allow the ordinance to take effect in June. Clarke found that the GMO ban is not pre-empted by Oregon’s “right to farm” law. He said the “right to farm” measure prohibits ordinances and lawsuits that treat a common farming practice as a trespass or nuisance, but the law does not protect activities that harm commercial agriculture.
Clarke also found that state lawmakers intended to permit the county’s GMO ban when they excluded Jackson County from a 2013 bill that pre-empted other local governments from regulating biotech crops, the Capital Press reported.
The case raises important questions about food safety and scarcity on a global level, Clarke wrote in an 11-page ruling. However, he said his decision was more narrowly focused on the construction of the state’s Right to Farm Act and the county ordinance, the Medford Mail Tribune reported.
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