Oregon legislature reviews arguments over local control of GMO crops

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Oregon farmers are suffering real financial losses because of contamination from nearby genetically engineered crops, a Legislative committee heard February 4.

“We lose money when we have a GMO contamination event, which I’ve had happen twice,” said Don Tipping, an organic seed grower from Williams. “We lost money directly, as have other growers.”

More than two dozen people testified at a hearing on HB 4122, which would repeal 2013 legislation prohibiting local governments from regulating crops or seeds.

The 2013 legislation was quickly passed during a special session after Jackson County qualified a local GMO ban for the ballot. Jackson County was exempt, and that ban has gone into effect.

“This bill puts the decision-making back to the local government. That’s where people can’t get bought out,” said Elise Higley, a Jackson County farmer and director of Our Family Farms Coalition, referring to large campaign contributions from agribusiness companies.

. . . .

The bill’s opponents, meanwhile said farmers should be able to work among themselves to resolve conflicts. And, they said, it would create a patchwork of regulations.

“It is very common for farmers and foresters to have land in multiple counties, and oftentimes a single field can straddle county boundaries,” said Scott Dahlman, policy director for Oregonians for Food & Shelter.

They also pointed to last year’s passage of HB 2509, which requires the Oregon Department of Agriculture to create a mediation program for farmers of GMO and non-GMO crops.

Read full, original post: Oregon farmers battle over GMO control

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