Last year local organic farmers Harry MacCormack, Clint Lindsey and Dana Allen filed for an initiative petition to start the Benton County Local Food System Ordinance, an effort focused on banning GMO farming within county limits. Because the proposed ballot measure didn’t meet the requirements in order to be circulated, it was denied. However, on Jan. 31 the group secured a partial victory when Benton County Circuit Judge Locke Williams ruled that their measure met the first of several requirements designed to prevent unfounded measures from winding up on the ballot. The decision is procedural in terms of assessing the validity of the petition and has no bearing on the issue of GMO itself.
They now await Judge Williams’ upcoming ruling on a second requirement regarding the full text of the measure. If he rules in favor of the initiative, the petitioners, along with the Benton County Community Rights Coalition, will have the green light to start collecting signatures in order to lock down a spot for the initiative on the November ballot.
However unlikely that a full GMO ban will take place, where this will go is still anybody’s guess. One thing that’s for certain is that many activists and voters on both sides of the GMO debate will assuredly be paying attention.
by Patrick Fancher