Court Upholds Oregon County's GMO Ban!

Last year, voters in two Oregon counties easily passed a referendum banning any planting of GMO crops, even after Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and others spent almost $1 million to defeat it.

Before the ban could go into effect this week, Monsanto and allies – in this case alfalfa farmers that use GMOs – took the case to court, of course.

Jackson County won and as of June 6, no more GMO crops will be planted. 

This is the first time a federal judge ruled based on the right of  organic farmers to protect their crops from the spread of GMOs.

Alfalfa:

GMO Alfalfa

The judge will still hear the claim, however, that the county must pay them $4.2 million in compensation for having to remove about 300 acres of  "Roundup Ready" alfalfa. Plaintiffs say it is tantamount to the county condemning their property.

Unfortunately, most Oregon counties won’t be allowed to follow suit because of a law passed in 2013 preempts counties from  these local ordinances. Jackson County was specifically excluded from the law because its ban was already on the ballot. We’re not sure what that means for the Josephine County, which also passed a ban.

The decision will likely have broader effects because GMO-related laws face challenges across the country.

GMO Alfalfa

Pollen from GMO alfalfa can easily spread, putting organic crops in danger, and the resistant weeds that result from spraying  Roundup also spread. Many countries refuse to import GMO crops or tainted organic crops, including meat and dairy from animals that have been fed those crops. Alfalfa is the fourth-largest crop in the US and a staple feed for livestock. 

The Center for Food Safety is suing the Department of Agriculture to get the documents it used when it approved GMO alfalfa in the first place. 

"USDA determined Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa posed significant environmental and economic harms and initially proposed placing restrictions on it. Yet the agency went ahead and granted full unrestricted approval one month later," says Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for the Center for Food Safety. "Did the White House intervene? Did Monsanto pressure the agency? The fact is we don’t know, and unless the court orders USDA to hand over these documents we may never know."

The group defended Oregon’s Jackson County in court (which will likely be appealed) and also won the victory in a court case to block Vermont’s GMO labeling law (which is being appealed). 

Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Pompeo’s (R-KS) DARK Act continues to move through Congress. It would allow foods that contain GMOs to be labeled "natural" and prohibit states from requiring labels. 

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