Oregon county’s GMO ban ruling appealed
A ruling striking down the ban on genetically engineered crops in Josephine County, Ore., is being appealed by supporters of the ordinance.
The prohibition was passed by voters in 2014 but overturned in May by Josephine County Circuit Court Judge Pat Wolke, who held that state law clearly pre-empted local regulations of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families, a nonprofit, and Sisikou Seeds, an organic farm, defended the GMO ban in court and have filed a notice informing the judge that they will appeal his decision.
Mary Middleton, executive director of OSFF, said the group continues to believe in local control and wants to vindicate the will of voters who created the GMO-free zone.
“Winning sets a precedent for the rest of the state,” Middleton said.
Middleton and other supporters of the GMO ban feared that biotech crops will cross-pollinate with organic and conventional ones, ruining their marketability.
Farmers Robert and Shelley Anne White filed a lawsuit against the ordinance last year because they wanted to plant genetically engineered sugar beets.
Wolke agreed with them that state lawmakers disallowed such local restrictions in 2013, rejecting arguments that the pre-emption law was unconstitutional.
John DiLorenzo, attorney for the plaintiffs, said he’s confident the Oregon Court of Appeals will affirm the decision, preventing county-by-county litigation if other local governments pass similar GMO bans.