Please submit your information below stating you agree to these statements in opposition of SB 633 and HB 3192. These bills are trying to prevent counties and cities from passing local ordinances that ban or regulate a specific agricultural crop or seed. This would attempt to block our ability to pass local ordinances that ban the cultivation of GM crops in a county. You can read the actual bills here:393 signatures
We, the below undersigned, wholly support the following statements in opposition to SB 633 and HB 3192. We wish our support for these comments to be submitted as testimony for public hearing.
Dear Committee Members,
It's a fair claim to state that Oregonians take pride in their state and what is produced here. All of Oregon's biggest economic industries strive to differentiate their Oregon-based products as being of superior quality to those produced elsewhere, whether that's hazelnuts, berries, pears, seeds, fish, wine, beer, truffles, cheese, broccoli, Christmas trees or countless others. Every instance of an existing agricultural county ordinance or any of the ones currently in the works are put in place to protect and foster one of these industries that make Oregon special. The large-scale corporations pushing for the passage of SB 633 and HB 3192 are not operating in Oregon to grow something special that Oregon can take pride in. Instead they are here to grow cheap commodity crops and treat Oregon like just another state with dirt they can merely put their seeds in.
Is there anyone out there championing Syngenta's sugar beet seeds as something proudly grown in Oregon or being able fetch an economic premium from being a quality Oregon product? No. They are simply cheap commodity sugar beet seeds that could have been grown anywhere. Flip the coin and there are plenty of people praising Oregon's organic and specialty beta vulgaris seed products, among many others. These products fetch enough of an economic premium to make being a local family farmer a viable financial option for Oregonians. Syngenta's sugar beet seed plots directly put at risk all other neighboring organic and specialty seed growers cultivating other beets and chards, thus threatening the livelihood of many Oregon family farmers. Local ordinances such as Jackson County's upcoming GMO ban aim to protect its citizens in this exact situation.
The state pre-emption in SB 633/HB 3192 tries to block the ability of good local hard-working, tax-paying Oregon farmers and citizens from being able to protect local agricultural industries, economies, and environments that are vital to their health, well-being, and livelihoods.
The backers of SB 633/HB 3192 claim that without passage the state will be riddled with a patchwork of confusing ordinances. However, counties have arguably had the ability all along to create agriculturally-focused ordinances (if they haven't, then what is the need for this bill?). Is there a patchwork of confusing ordinances? No. Instead, in two very specific pear-growing regions of the state, there are local ordinances that help protect the livelihoods of the fruit farmers in those counties. By continuing to allow counties to address agricultural issues that matter to the citizens who live and farm in those counties, the network of ordinances that emerge will make logical sense based on the agricultural economies that flourish in that given region of the state.
Forcing agricultural issues to be addressed only at the state level hinders the ability of one region's farmers to get their concerns addressed. Why should a beta vulgaris issue in Jackson County bother or even have an impact on people in Baker County? If SB 633/HB 3192 were to become law, Jackson County farmers would have to make the Representatives and Senators and possibly even the citizens of Baker County care about their issue. That's nearly an impossible feat and a challenge that Jackson county farmers shouldn't have to face. It’s very plausible that in the near future all winter wheat farmers in Umatilla County could need to guarantee to overseas markets that all their exports are GMO Free. A significant concern already exists: Japan, the largest buyer of Oregon's wheat crops, has already declared they would seek wheat suppliers elsewhere if anyone here in Oregon starts growing GM wheat. Those exports are a vital part of the economies in Oregon’s wheat-growing counties. Being able to pass a local ordinances to protect those counties from a non-Oregon corporation such as Monsanto coming in and planting crops that jeopardize the livelihoods of our Oregon family farmers seems beyond logical, and is of critical importance.
Article VI, Section 10 of the Oregon Constitution as well as ORS 203.035 grant counties authority "over matters of county concern", but not matters over statewide concern. If a county is establishing an ordinance limiting a particular agricultural crop within its boundary, and not beyond it, that is clearly a matter of county concern and has no bearing on statewide concerns. The ordinance limiting a crop is not broadening statewide concerns and allowing something the state denies, but rather narrowing the concern for the tighter level of control that its citizens desire. ORS 203.035 further states that the power it grants to counties "shall be liberally construed, to the end that counties have all powers over matters of county concern that it is possible for them to have under the Constitutions and laws of the United States and of this state." Nowhere is there an exemption in the Constitution of the Unites States nor the State of Oregon or its laws that excludes agriculture from this authority. Tampering with this authority as SB 633/HB 3192 attempts to do is not a decision to be taken lightly, and arguably the fundamental right to self-govern and that all governments are created to serve the people should supersede and outweigh any interest in letting SB 633/HB 3192 take this authority away.
While SB 633/HB 3192 is targeted primarily at preventing the Jackson County GMO ban and similar local ordinances, the canola issue is a ripe example of state-level agencies failing to address matters of local concern. In the face of overwhelming testimony against allowing canola in the Willamette Valley, including unquestionable proof from other specialty seed growing regions around the world that canola will ruin the Valley (taking with it the lucrative specialty seed and produce economies), the ODA still sided with a handful of farmers and non-Oregon Corporations who want to plant a cheap commodity crop for bio-fuels. The further insult is that canola is not even an efficient bio-fuel crop, as there are other smarter crop choices to grow if bio-fuels are the desired output.
The fact that this bill, SB 633/HB 3192, is having a hearing right now and the Willamette Canola Ban has not had one is further evidence that matters of specific local concern are not being heard, yielded to, or addressed in an effective manner at the state level. The canola issue affects multiple counties simultaneously, so there is a clear reason for it to be addressed at the state level. But if an issue such as canola that affects 9 counties and is clearly supported by the majority of citizens in those counties is having difficulty at the state level, how is a specific issue, which farmers and citizens of single county care about, ever going to get any traction at the state level? We must preserve a county’s ability to create ordinances governing matters of county concern, including those that relate to agriculture.
For all the above reasons I strongly urge the you to dismiss SB 633/HB 3192 without passage.
Currently running for EMSWCD Director at large #1
Occupation: Volunteer Program Manager for Lift Urban Portland
Professional Background: Community involvement coordination, outreach and education, political engagement and advocacy, community affairs, environmental education and activism.
- B.S. in Natural Resources & Environment, U of Mich.
- Masters in Urban & Regional Planning, UNO
Prior governmental experience: Successful policy advocacy on local budget issues, experience with local and global activist communities, point person for a public involvement contract for Lents Urban Renewal District 2001-2002, while employed at SE Uplift.
I am running for office because I want to:
- Promote organic gardening.
- Work to keep transgenic contamination (GMOs- aka genetically modified organisms) out of East Multnomah County (& the Pacific NW generally).
- Develop more tools to reduce excessive and improper use of pesticides and herbicides such as glyphosate (Roundup®).
- Increase involvement and education in soil health and water issues, and support deeper community engagement in local food security and food policy issues, through working with schools, congregations, and businesses on garden projects and volunteer programs, with special emphasis on under-represented populations.
Please vote for me. Thank you for your consideration.
Our event this week on May 3rd served as our official launch of the labeling campaign. Press release went out on Wednesday...
Grassroots group GMO Free Oregon has launched its campaign to put an initiative on the ballot this November that would require food containing genetically engineered ingredients to be clearly labeled as such. The group will need to collect the signatures of 100,000 registered Oregon voters to get the initiative placed on the ballot this November.
We are now working hard on planning the signature gathering efforts that will take place this June. We need your help! If you'd be willing to gather signatures at your local farmers market, or gather at your church, volunteer and let us know so we can make sure you get the petitions and info.
Thursday May 3rd will mark the official launch of our statewide labeling initiative campaign. Come out for an important fundraising and knowledge-building event! We will be screening the groundbreaking film "the Future of Food" and will have a special international guest! It's a great opportunity to learn about the intiative and why it's important.
You can find out more about the labeling initiative here.
The Jackson County (Ashland area) group is currently working towards a county level ordinance banning the cultivation of GMOs in Jackson County. Highlighted by recent problems with genetically modified sugar beets, the Jackson County group is very energized and organized in their efforts to get their ordinance on the ballot for this November. You can read more about the current problems in Ashland with genetically modified sugar beets here.
Planting genetically engineered life forms and products is not a reasonable and prudent farm practice because genetic drift from windborne and insect carried pollens from one farm can create economic harm to farmers who have chosen to farm without them.
Planting genetically engineered organisms is not a generally accepted method nor will it become generally accepted among certified organic farmers who use organic farm practices by complying with USDA regulations and Oregon Tilth certifications. Both those certifications explicitly ban the use of genetically engineered organisms to acquire and maintain their organic certification. As such, organic farm operations are not similar in nature to nonorganic farm operations because they are controlled and regulated by specific rules not applied to others.
A ban on genetically engineered organisms does not deprive farmers from methods for the operation of the farm to obtain a profit in money. There are many reasonable alternatives available to farmers that do not require the use of genetically engineered crops or livestock.
Jackson County recognizes that organic farmers and farms make a vital and important contribution to its economy, improve the County's agricultural viability and increases Jackson County consumer local food choices.
The Benton County ( Corvallis area ) group is working to put forth a county level measure adopting a sustainable agriculture "bill of rights". This bill of rights will, among several things, ban the growth and cultivation of GM crops in the open environment. Currently refer to as the "Right to Seed Heritage and Sustainability", this county measure grew out of concern for our Oregon farmers who fear GM contamination of their crops, conventional as well as organic. The measure also reflects the public’s concern for our environment, children, farmland, food safety and public health and reclaiming a communities right to defend and protect those entities of concern rather than caving to corporations false power to exploit those entities.
The practice of saving seeds is fundamental to sustainable agriculture by making agriculture economically viable for farmers, promotes bio-diversity, and potentially leads to higher crop yields without genetic engineering as successive generations of the seed adapt to, or are bread for, the unique qualities of the specific region or site. GMO proprieter Monsanto currently employees a large team of lawyers who's sole purpose is to enforce Monsanto's patent claims on the GM seeds. With pollen drifting from a GM field and contaminating a non-GM field, the patent litigation Monsanto is wielding threatens this very fundamental right of farmers everywhere.
The farming of genetically modified organisms poses a significant threat to a neighboring or near by farmers ability to attain or retain organic certification due to pollen drift or other contamination. USDA Organic guidelines and Oregon Tilth Certification mandate that organic food cannot contain GMOs. So if a farmer chooses to be organic, but a nearby farmer plants the GMO variety of that crop, the organic farmers ability to maintain their organic certification is in doubt. Since organic farming practices dont use chemical pesticides or herbicides, they are higly more sustainable farming practices than those chemical heavy practices in use by GMO farmers. Accordingly defending the right to sustainable agriculture means defending organic farming and banning GMOs.
Oregon consumers have the right to know whether or not the food they purchase was produced using genetic engineering. Genetic engineering of plants and animals often causes unintended consequences. Manipulating genes and inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process. The results are not always predictable or controllable, and they can lead to adverse health or environmental consequences.
Fifty countries including the European Union and Japan have laws mandating that genetically engineered foods be labeled, but the United States does not have such a requirement. Public opinion polls indicate that over 90 percent of American voters support the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
The Oregon Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food initiative follows in the footsteps of the current California initiative ( http://www.labelgmos.org ) and is joined by similar legislation efforts currently underway in Vermont and Connecticut. All four, including ours here in Oregon strive to address the lack of GMO labeling and consumer knowledge by requiring that:
- Processed foods that contain GMO derived ingredients be labeled as containing genetically engineered food
- Foods about to come on the market that are wholly themselves a genetically modified organism (Corn-on-the-cobb, Salmon) be clearly labled as genetically engineered
- The labeling, advertising and marketing of genetically engineered foods using terms such as “natural,” “naturally made,” “naturally grown,” or “all natural” is misleading to consumers and therefor GMO products cannot be labeled as such.
The initial language of the proposed measure has been submitted to the state elections office with the initial sponsorship signatures. There are several formal process steps that the state now goes through in verifying the signatures and then drafting the official ballot language for title and summary of the measure. If the measure proceeds though the process smoothly, there will be a short, but hopefully still feasible window of time dring the month of June when we will be out collecting the approximately 87,000 signatures necessary to get the measure on the ballot for November's general election.
Q: Shouldn't the FDA be responsible for this and require labeling nationwide?
Yes! The FDA should be responsible for this. However, federal labeling legislation has been before Congress since 1999 and gone nowhere even though there has been clear support from the american people that they want it, and a global movement to require it. In March, a petition was delivered to the FDA with a million (1,000,000!) signatures requesting GMO labeling. As well, 55 members of Congress signed a letter to the FDA demanding action. Even with these recent efforts, the FDA is showing no signs that it intends to take action.
Q: What happens if you run out of time and can't collect the necessary signatures?
We'll admit that we got a late start on this. When we learned that Oregon only allows citizens to submit initiative petitions in even numbered years, we had a gut-check about doing this, but decided that we just couldn't stomach the idea of waiting until to 2014 to "do something". So while we have submitted the intiative paperwork, and we realize that it might not be a reality for it to happen, this is still an issue that needs our attention. If time prevents us from making the November ballot, we will convert the energy into a campaign requesting the Oregon legislature take action to pass a GMO labeling bill.
Q: how can I help?
Sign up on this site and volunteer to gather signatures. When the time comes (June) to collect the necessary signatures, we'll need any and every volunteer we can get to help.