Thursday, January 10 2013, 10:52 PM CST
GMO ban petition qualifies for Jackson County ballot
By Jessica De Nova/KTVL.com
ASHLAND, Ore.-A petition to ban the growth of GMO crops in Jackson County contained enough signatures to qualify as a measure in the Jackson County May 2014 ballot.
Genetically modified organism (GMO)-free growers began work on the ban when their crops were being contaminated by farmers using GMOs.
Chris Hardy, owner of Village Farm, thought he was producing GMO-free beets, until he realized the farmer next to him wasn't.
Syngenta, the Swiss grower, was growing genetically engineered sugar beets in the plot next to Village Farm's, contaminating Hardy's seeds.
"It is illegal to grow GMOs in Switzerland, so they're here in the Rogue Valley doing such," said Hardy.
Hardy and others in the community created GMO-Free Jackson County and collected over 6700 signatures in support of banning the growth of GMO crops in Jackson County.
As for his potentially contaminated seeds, it'll cost Hardy as much as $500 to test whether or not they are still GMO-free. Until then, he prefers to hold on to them.
"I can't, in good conscience, sell those seeds," said Hardy.
The Jackson County Farm Bureau disagrees with the ban.
"The Jackson County Farm Bureau is opposed to banning any biotech crop," said Jackson County Farm Bureau President, Ronald Bjork.
The Bureau said it is the responsibility of all types of growers to co-exist.
"We believe that farmers need to get together and work out their own problems," said Bjork.
Though both sides hope the board of commissioners will vote in their favor, Jackson County Commissioner, Doug Breidenthal, told News 10, "The board of commissioners doesn't have an opinion for or against the GMO ban.