GMO ban in Oregon county in effect, but officials say they aren’t enforcing it

Saturday is the first day people in Jackson County, Oregon, can alert county officials about violations of the ban on growing genetically altered crops.

But officials won’t be patrolling or making farmers destroy their plants – and it’s unclear if they ever will. More than a year after two-thirds of voters decided to oust GMOs, supporters and opponents alike are asking the same question:

Now what?

As it turns out, figuring out how to enforce the ban is more complicated than the election.

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First, there’s the matter of a lawsuit.

A federal judge last week rejected a claim by farmers that the ordinance violated their “right to farm” under state law. Their claim that they should get $4.2 million in compensation from the county is still pending, however, and county officials agreed not to enforce the GMO ban until it’s resolved.

County Administrator Danny Jordan said in an email that he stands by his estimate that the ban could cost as much as $200,000 a year for enforcement employees. He added that having to remove GMO contaminants from soil could cost millions of dollars.

State legislators have tried to enter the GMO debate in Jackson County with little success.

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A bill that would have allowed farmers the right to sue for compensation or a waiver of land use statutes that hurt them financially – such as county GMO bans – died in committee this week.

“I viewed it as a way to say, if you’re gonna change direction and ban someone, you should at least pay them,” said Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, the sponsor. “If you don’t want to co-exist, buy the guy out.”

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Jackson County’s GMO ban taking effect: What happens next?

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