Two weeks ago, Congress passed the Monsanto Protection Act and President Obama signed it into law, over the objections of more than 300,000 Food Democracy Now! members. Some have tried to minimize the risk this provision will have on farmers, the environment and judicial review, but the threat is greater than even we had imagined.
Right now in Oregon, state senators are hiding behind the precedent of the Monsanto Protection Act to undermine efforts in Jackson County to pass a countywide ban on GMO crops, a ballot initiative that qualified for the May 2014 ballot.
In the next 48 hours, the Oregon Senate plans to vote on a bill, SB 633, to strip all local control of agricultural seed and seed production to be replaced with a “one size fits all” policy dictated by the state.
Already Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), SB 633's chief sponsor, has even gone so far as to site the Monsanto Protection Act, Section 735 of HR 933 as a justification for this latest corporate handout for the biotech chemical and seed companies.
If SB 633 leaves committee for a vote on the Senate Floor, it is expected to pass. But many of the senators who currently support the bill don't understand it. Please make sure they hear from us today!
SB 633 Strips Local Citizen’s Rights and Harms Oregon’s Farmers
Under current Oregon law, local citizens have the right to impose a ban on growing genetically engineered crops within the confines of their county to protect local family farmers and economic interests through a ballot initiative. And this is exactly what GMO Free Jackson County is working on, by placing a potential ban of GMO crops on the ballot next year.
Unfortunately, Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) and other senators in the Rural Communities and Economic Development committee are determined to do the bidding of biotech seed and chemical giants Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta by working to pass a law that pre-empts local county authority over seeds and seed production.
According to an email to a constituent from Roblan's legislatisive policy adviser Rosie Shatkin:
"With this background information in mind, and given that the DA promulgated rules through the APHIS, does the CFCAA, 2013, H.B. 933 § 735, impact a State’s ability to regulate GMOs? In essence, one reviewer of the act noted that "Even if the courts find that a (genetically engineered) crop shouldn’t be planted until more research is done about its safety, no one could stop that crop from being planted, even temporarily" because Federal Law supersedes state law and most definitely, local Ordinance."
Seriously, for those who thought the Monsanto Protection Act was just in place for 6 months, it looks like the biotech industry is now trying to use it to undermine local agriculture!
Tomorrow morning, a committee vote is scheduled on SB 633, which would then be followed by a vote by the full Senate, if the bill passes. We must act today!
We need your help today to stop SB 633 to make sure that local Oregon citizens don’t lose the important right to determine what happens in their communities to protect giant multinational chemical companies.
According to Oregon farmers, SB 633 is a thinly veiled attempt to silence the growing concern over genetically engineered foods and gut all county efforts to address the real problems that growing GMO crops can have on seed purity and the economic livelihoods of family farmers.
"It's vital to understand that Washington and Oregon account for over 80 percent of U.S. chard and table beet seed production, and 50 percent of world chard and table seed production," says Chris Hardy, an Oregon market farmer and seed grower who has worked for the past decade to educate the public about the importance of maintaining seed integrity.
"This greatly increases the odds that the world's non-GMO and organic beets and chard seed stock will move increasingly toward contamination," says Hardy, who also is the chief petitioner of the GMO Free Jackson County ballot initiative.
Farmers throughout the Rogue Valley region have been significantly disaffected and harmed economically by the growing of genetically engineered crops. They deserve the opportunity to protect their land, seed heritage and livelihoods.
The Rogue Valley is an significant area for organic and conventional seeds crops to be grown and needs protection from the threat of contamination by GMO crops. The county-wide ban on GMO crops within Jackson county placed on the May 2014 ballot through the citizen-led initiative process must go forward to protect Oregon’s family farmers. Please share this with others in your community!
Remember, democracy is like a muscle... either use it or lose it!
Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team
Click here to read the bill.