Jackson County, Oregon has passed, and the courts have upheld, a county wide ban on growing GMO’s.
The Farmer’s Daughter does a great job giving an overview of the decision that was upheld on Monday in Oregon.
This is not a ban on the consumption, sale or processing of GMOs. It is only a ban on growing them. It’s obvious why conventional farmers would lose sleep over such a decision, but here are some other people who should be just as angry.
1. Consumers: County by county ban on production practices will negatively impact food choice and food price.
If this single county sets a precedence and farming management decisions are being made in courtrooms by judges, instead of at kitchen tables by farm families, food selection will go down and price will go up.
Consumers, preferably with reliable and fact based information, should have the right to choose which type of farming practices and products they want to support with their purchases. Farmers should then have the right to respond to consumer demand with farming practices that make the most sustainable and economic sense for their farms.
2. Small Business Owners: Any small business owner should be enraged at the government making management decisions for us.
An important and often overlooked fact is that each family farm in your community is a small business. They employ part time and full time workers, they buy and sell thousands of dollars of goods within the local community, they pay taxes, and they donate time and money to local causes.
The Government, without the support of fact or science, determined some farm families to be of more worth than others. They have handed a death sentence to conventional family farms in their county.
3. Supporters of Young Farmers: Young farmers could be wiped out if the government limits their ability to use the latest technology.
Young and beginning farmers face unique challenges compared to their more established counterparts. Our margins are even thinner than our neighbors that have been operating longer. Our debt is greater, our equity is less. We make farming decisions based on long term projections and rely on the ability to use all resources available to us.
If the government removes our ability to farm using the most advanced seed technology available, it would very well bankrupt us. On good years there may not be measurable difference in yield (income). But on bad years? We could suffer a major loss without the assistance of insect protection, drought protection, and more that GMO technology provides.
Go here for an in depth analysis of the cost and income differences of GM and non GM crops.
4. Science Community: In a single ruling, a judge rejected the lifetime work and opinions of scientists who have devoted their careers to studying GMO technology.
There is no more thoroughly tested food on the market today than GMO variety food crops. As explained by Genetic Literacy Project, 89% of scientists believe GMO foods are safe! This judge threw science, fact and reason out the window and instead used emotionally changed anecdotes to make a ruling.
5. And everyone else. It has become cliché to call someone un-American, or un-patriotic when they don’t agree with your principles. But there is something terrifying to me about a group of voters willing to strip away the ability of farm families to make their own management decisions.
It’s even more terrifying the government would make such broad based laws with no science, fact or reason.
Remember, this decision has nothing to do with the actual consumption of GMO's products. This ban only limits the ability of families to chose which production practices are best for their family on their farm.
(Note - there is no safety or nutritional difference in organic and conventional raw products. The difference in organic and conventionally grown products is ONLY in production practices.) Read here for a great analysis on the two.
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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