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GMO control disputed by Oregon farmers

On Thursday 4 February, more than two dozen people testified at a hearing on House Bill 4122, which would repeal the 2013 legislation prohibiting local governments from regulating crops or seeds. The Legislative committee were told that Oregon farmers are suffering real financial losses because of contamination from nearby genetically engineered crops.

“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.”

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.

At the time, then-Gov. John Kitzhaber promised a legislative solution to the conflict. That hasn’t happened, the bill’s backers say.

GMO crops can't be monitored or regulated in Oregon

In the weeks after the 2013 special session was announced, a dozen companies including Monsanto, Novartis and Syngenta contributed at least $127,745 to legislators' campaign committees, the two Republican caucus political action committees, and three other PACs that contribute to candidates.

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 often times 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.


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