Oregon: Protect the NO GMO Vote!
Dear Oregon Organic Consumer,
Oregon farmers are defending their livelihoods - and your food supply - against Monsanto, Syngenta and the other biotech companies that have been moving into the state’s seed growing regions with genetically engineered junk-food crops that will contaminate and destroy Oregon’s organic and non-GMO seeds.
If you want to help them, please contact your state representatives and ask them to vote against SB 633. If SB 633 – dubbed Oregon’s Monsanto Protection Act - becomes law, it will take away the rights of communities to control their local agricultural seed and seed products, and give that right to the state.
SB 633 is a direct attempt by the biotech industry to prevent Oregon farmers from protecting their seeds and crops through the passing of local, countywide bans on growing GMO crops.
Here’s the history. Farmers in Oregon’s Rogue Valley are among the nation’s most prolific producers of certified organic beet and chard seeds, which they grow for national distribution. From February 2011 until July 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) partially deregulated genetically engineered sugar beets, under the condition that GMO growers wouldn’t plant within a four-mile separation distance of non-GMO sugar beets.
Syngenta brazenly violated the USDA four-mile separation rule. In February 2011, the company admitted to planting a checkerboard of fields ranging in size from one-quarter to 10 acres covering a distance of 25 miles from South Ashland up to Grants Pass.
When Chris Hardy, owner of Village Farm in Ashland, Ore., discovered that a neighbor was growing genetically engineered sugar beet seeds just one-quarter of a mile from his small organic farm, he reported Syngenta’s violation to the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service. The agency sent out an inspector who interviewed Hardy and several other farmers. Nothing happened.
Another organic farmer, Steve Fry, owner of Fry Family Farms in Medford, Ore., was forced to destroy a chard crop because he found that a neighbor was growing genetically engineered sugar beets just 400 yards from his farm. Fry was growing the chard for seed. But his customer refused to buy the seed fearing that it had been contaminated by the genetically engineered beets.
Then in July 2012, the USDA completely deregulated GM sugar beets, eliminating the four-mile isolation requirement. That’s when Hardy and Fry decided to take matters into their own hands. They formed GMO Free Jackson County, a coalition of farmers, business owners and consumers. The coalition placed a measure on the May 2014 ballot to ban GMOs from the Rogue Valley.
Monsanto and Syngenta retaliated by forming Oregonians for Food and Shelter, a front group whose sole purpose is to stop local GMO bans by passing SB 633.
If SB 633 passes, organic vegetables, including beets and chard, could be destroyed by Syngenta’s GMO sugar beets, a crop used to make the refined sugar used in candy, sodas and sweets. Equally disturbing is the fact that SB 633 strips cities and counties of their right to control what happens on the farms in their communities.
-- Alexis, for the whole OCA Team
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