Measure 15-119 is the opening salvo of Oregonians’ high-stakes campaign against Big Biotech
Update, 11:30 p.m: Jackson County voters approved the measure by an overwhelming 2 to 1 margin. A similar meaure was approved in neighboring Josephine county.
Yellow signs dot the rural landscape of Oregon’s Jackson County, most of them urging local to vote “Yes” to “Protect Family Farms.” Meanwhile, in the population centers of Medford and Ashland, volunteers frantically work the phones trying to get out the vote before 8 p.m. Tuesday.
At stake is the sovereignty of hundreds of farmers in the fertile Rogue Valley. And a victory by GMO opponents could signify a new chapter in the debate over genetic engineering in the United States — a country far behind much of the world in regulating GMOs.
Jackson county residents are voting today on whether to ban genetically modified crops, in an area peppered with GMO farms operated by the Swiss Agribusiness giant Syngenta. In contrast to much of the discussion to date in the US, the conversation in Jackson County has been less about the potential health impacts of GMO’s, and more about the right of farmers to determine the origin of the seeds they put in the ground.