Another Blow For Monsanto — Judge Upholds Genetically Engineered Crop Ban in Jackson County

Yet Another Blow For Monsanto - Judge Upholds Genetically Engineered Crop Ban in Jackson County

3rd June 2015

By Carolanne Wright

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

In an era where big money is tossed around by biotech and pesticide behemoths like Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont and others to defeat laws restricting GMOs, it’s heartening to see grassroots anti-GMO efforts making headway. The latest example involves an American federal court ruling upholding a Jackson County, Oregon ban on genetically engineered crops.

First victory

In 2014, residents of Jackson County voted by a two-to-one margin to ban the growing of genetically modified crops within their district. In the Nation article, “Beating Monsanto in the Food Fight: Oregon Counties Vote to Ban GMO Crops,” we’re given a glimpse into why the ballot measure was such an overwhelming success:

“The voters here have many generations of fruit and vegetable growing, so they’re among the most educated voters. The opposition spent a million dollars and couldn’t convince the people,” explained Chuck Burr , the president of the Southern Oregon Seed Growers Association, which describes the region’s fertile valleys as “the perfect seed growing environment.”

But it wasn’t easy. Supporters of the bill where up against the Titans of biotech, who poured substantial resources into defeating the legislation by flooding media outlets with campaigns claiming if the bill was passed, farmers would be burdened and the county budget would be consumed by enforcement costs. Of particular note is the fact that 95% of the money allotted to crush the legislation came from outside the county. As reported by the The Nation:

“In a county where the most expensive previous campaign on an initiative measure had cost around $100,000, Monsanto alone gave $183,294 to block the proposal. DuPont gave $129,647. Syngenta gave $75,000. Bayer CropScience gave $22,352. Dow AgroSciences $22,352. BASF Plant Science $22,352. And those were just the biggest checks. Groups affiliated with the Farm Bureau, which often aligns with agribusiness interests, sent substantial checks from states around the country. In all, according to media reports, the campaign to block the ban raised close to $1 million.”

In the face of immense financial bullying, local residents of the county did what Americans do best: they organized. Through Grange hall and community meetings, Our Family Farms Coalition, and securing endorsements from local businesses like the Ashland Food Coop, Buttercloud Bakery and Café, Bad Ass Coffee and Daddy’s Donuts & Juices, they were able get the word out to the community at large. They also brought local chapters of the National Grange of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry — one of the oldest and most esteemed family farm associations in the area — on board. Additionally, the group received help from the Center for Food Safety Fund, Organic Consumers Fund and Consumer Reports. They garnered many small donations from supportive citizens as well. In the end, all their hard work paid off — until a legal firestorm presented itself.

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Second round

Two GMO alfalfa growers — with backing from Monsanto — contested the ban, claiming it violated Oregon’s Right to Farm Act. The growers argued they would be forced to remove 300 acres of GM alfalfa and that the legislation essentially condemned their property to public use. The pair is seeking $4.2 million in compensation from Jackson County. And while the farmers argument concerning “right to farm” was dismissed by Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke, the monetary claim is still active.

As always, there’s another side to the debate, one that is conveniently overlooked by pro-GMO minions:

“No farmer should ever have to tear up their crops like myself and others did for fear they had been contaminated by GMO pollen. Family farmers know well that GMO contamination could quickly destroy a family farm, but it was so encouraging to have a federal court support farmers’ right to defend ourselves against GMOs,” said Jackson County farmer Chris Hardy.

Slowly but surely, grass root anti-GMO movements are spreading. Other counties that have passed similar legislation include: Josephine County, OR; Santa Cruz County, CA; Trinity County, CA; Marin County, CA; Mendocino County, CA; Humboldt County, CA; San Juan County, WA; Maui County, HI; Hawaii County, HI; and numerous cities across the U.S.

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Hit the biotech industry where it hurts: their pocketbook

If we truly want to defeat corporations that have hijacked the environment, our food supply and health through genetically modified crops, one of the single most effective tactics is to undermine profits by voting with our dollars. Moreover, by educating farmers and the general public about the health and environmental dangers of GMOs, individuals are able to make informed choices about the food they purchase and the crops they raise. This kind of activism is beginning to bear fruit.

In early January 2015, Monsanto reported a sharp decline in first quarter earnings, down 34% to $243 million for net profit. Total sales fell by 8%. Corn is the biggest breadwinner for the company, and yet sales of the seed fell by 12% compared to last year. The company claims the losses are due to reduced demand in South American countries for GM corn seed, as well as shrinking genetically modified cotton seed purchases in Australia.

Article sources:

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About the author:

Carolanne Wright

I’m Carolanne — a writer, chef, traveler and enthusiastic advocate for sustainability, organics and joyful living. It’s good to have you here. If you would like to learn more, connect with me at or visit


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