WHAT WOULD MEASURE 15-119 DO?
The measure would protect family farmers from the impacts of genetically engineered crops by preventing the growing of such crops in Jackson County.
It would also protect our drinking water and kids from exposure to the increased levels of pesticides caused by genetically engineered crops.1
The measure does NOT affect a homeowner's lawn grass, carnations, or medical marijuana.
WHO IS THE "OUR FAMILY FARMS COALITION"?
We’re a group of Rogue Valley family farmers and citizens who support farmers working to pass the Family Farms Measure 15-119. Please go to our supporters page to see the growing list of hundreds of local farms, businesses and organizations who support keeping genetically engineered crops out of Jackson County.
WHO IS OPPOSING THE FAMILY FARMS MEASURE 15-119? AND WHY?
Over 97% of the campaign funding for the opposition to 15-119 comes from outside Jackson County, according to Oregon state campaign finance records.
Out-of-state chemical corporations including Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, and DuPont are the leading contributors and recently put over $450,000 in to the opposition campaign in a single day.
These corporations own and control the patents on genetically engineered crops and they oppose the measure because it would protect Jackson County from a highly damaging product they sell. The opposition has raised $800,000 so far, an unprecedented amount that smashes all spending records for Jackson County elections.
WHAT ABOUT ENFORCEMENT COSTS FOR THE MEASURE?
The out-of-state opponents of the measure are trying to scare people into thinking the measure would have a cost to the county, but that’s just not true.
First, it's useful to ask: Are Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and other chemical giants that are funding the opposition truly concerned about Jackson County’s budget?
Or is it more likely a convenient scare tactic designed to play off our existing community concerns, as those of us who live here are of course concerned about the county budget?
That answer is obvious, but it’s worth looking into why local farmer Jared Watters explained recently,
“As a fiscally conservative Republican I can say the oppositions’ claims that 15-119 would have high enforcement costs or threaten farmers’ rights are pure political bull.”
WHY ARE THE COST CLAIMS POLITICAL BULL?
Counties with similar laws have no enforcement costs. There are three western agricultural counties with similar farmer protection measures and these counties’ agricultural commissions have confirmed that they had no enforcement costs. One of the commissioners stated they answered a few phone calls about the measure and that was it. Why is that? The answer is simple, legal contracts.
Legal contracts. Buying and growing genetically engineered crops requires the signing of extensive yearly legal contracts between the corporation selling the seeds and the grower. Is a global chemical company or a grower going to sign a legal contract to do something that is clearly illegal under County law? No. Are farmers criminals who would knowingly and intentionally try to violate county law and sign a legal contract to do so? No.
- Even the County admits the enforcement costs could be “zero.” Opposition ads claim a report by the County Administrator supports their claims that 15-119 would have enforcement costs.
But what they don’t mention is that even this report said the enforcement cost could be “zero.” When farmers demanded a retraction of the Administrator’s report because of its highly political slant combined with many errors and omissions, the Administrator defended the report explaining,
“I said at least six times in the presentation that this could cost zero dollars.” RVTV Channel 14 3/19/14.
- The Measure does not require any spending by the County, which has full enforcement discretion. Why is it that the County doesn’t spend its entire public safety budget on enforcing jaywalking? The reason is that it has discretion to decide where to put County dollars. Nothing in Measure 15-119 affects that discretion or requires that the County spend a single dime enforcing 15-119.
Opponents cannot point to a single sentence of 15-119 that requires otherwise. The measure gives the County “the authority” to enforce the measure, but doesn’t require any level of spending by the County.
HOW ARE FAMILY FARMERS AT RISK FROM GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS?
Genetically engineered crops threaten farmers in a number of ways, including:
- Crop contamination Genetically engineered crops can spread by wind-blown seeds or pollen and trespass onto farms that grow traditional crops. The seeds produced or any crops produced from those seeds are unsellable in many export markets, as well as a growing number of US markets.
Additionally, any seed produced from genetically engineered pollen is considered patented and legally controlled by the chemical corporation that owns the patent. Yes, surprisingly enough, if genetically engineered pollen drifts onto a farmers’ crop and produces seed, that farmer can be sued or threatened with patent infringement lawsuits which themselves are enough to bankrupt a family farm.
- Economic risks of crop export bans When genetically engineered wheat was found on just one Oregon farm last year, Oregon’s largest wheat buyers immediately banned all exports of wheat from Oregon. This left family farmers, including farmers in Jackson County, unable to sell the wheat they had spent a season of work and investment growing.
For months, wheat farmers had no certainty whether they would be able to sell their crop. One Jackson County farmer alone suffered more than $50,000 in losses from the export ban.
Risks of patent lawsuits The multi-national chemical corporations that own the patents on most genetically engineered crops have threatened farmers around the U.S. with patent infringement lawsuits. Rogue Valley farmers shouldn’t have to live in fear that Monsanto or Syngenta are going to take them to federal court for patent infringement.
- Superweeds These weeds can be very costly and hard for farmers to treat and require stronger and more toxic herbicides to control.
WHY ARE THE FARM BUREAU AND SOME FARMERS AGAINST THE MEASURE?
The Oregon Farm Bureau is unfortunately heavily influenced by Monsanto and other chemical companies that have patented most of the genetically engineered crops. Chemical giants Monsanto and Syngenta, for example, gave 28% of the Farm Bureau’s political budget since 2006.2
The Farm Bureau is unfortunately siding with big out-of-state corporations instead of family farmers. While over 150 family farms have supported keeping genetically engineered crops out of the Rogue Valley the opposition to Measure 15-119 lists only a few local farms that oppose the measure.
Some growers may like using genetically engineered crops, but no farmer should have the right to destroy their neighbor’s crops by planting genetically engineered crops.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH RISKS OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS?
There is plenty of debate about the health risks of genetically engineered crops and many scientists and other countries believe there are serious reasons to be concerned about the health effects of consuming genetically engineered crops that have been designed either to actually produce pesticides or be resistant to high herbicide levels.
But what is clear is that these crops lead to increased herbicide use and those same herbicides are ending up in the drinking water we use and give to our kids. Genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011.1
1. "Pesticide Use Ramping Up As GMO Crop Technology Backfires: Study" Reuters, Oct. 1, 2012
2. "Do two state agricultural groups have ties to biotech firms? The Oregonian, Politifact Oregon, October 11, 2013