In November, voters in San Juan county Washington banned genetically modified crops. Now Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley could follow suit. A proposed GMO ban just qualified for the 2014 Jackson County ballot. Amelia Templeton of EarthFix reports.
It all began with sugar beets. A company called Syngenta Seeds grows genetically modified sugar beets in Jackson county.
Chuck Burr owns an organic seed company and farm in Ashland. He says the pollen from sugar beets can drift and cross breed with other plants. Burr worried that his organic chard and the genetically modified beets were swapping pollen.
Burr: “My chard would look like a half-sugar beet, half chard. And then I can’t in good conscience sell seed to a customer that I can’t guarantee will grow true to type.”
Burr says Syngenta agreed to stop planting its GMO sugar beets near his farm. But he and a handful of other small farmers are supporting a ballot measure that would ban all genetically modified crops in Jackson County. State officials say the ban could face a legal challenge, due to an Oregon “right to farm” law.
Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio