By Bethany Carlson
The Benton Food Freedom group has gathered over 3,000 signatures, which means the initiative to ban genetically modified crops in Benton County may be on the May 2015 ballot. The group says they’re confident that they’ve got the 2,171 registered Benton County voter signatures needed for the measure to get on the ballot. On Tuesday, the group presented the signatures at 1 p.m. at the Benton County courthouse.
If it passes, the measure will mean that farmers can’t grow genetically modified or patented crops in Benton County. Benton Food Freedom sees the ballot measure as being about more than GMOs, however. Organizer Harry MacCormack stated in a press release, “Fundamentally what we are talking about with this measure campaign is our right to local, community self-government.” The group adds that they expect corporate pushback in the form of campaign dollars.
A similar measure passed in Josephine and Jackson counties earlier this year, but a 2013 state bill means that the State of Oregon is the only entity which can regulate seeds. The Jackson County bill had already been passed, but the Josephine County bill may not be enforceable due to the state law.
For more information or to get involved in the campaign, contact Vernon Huffman at 541-829-9034.