Why Is Monsanto a So Worried About the Jackson County Vote on Genetically Engineered Crops?

By Elise Higley of Jackson County. Elise is a family farmer in Jackson County and the director of the Our Family Farms Coalition which is leading the fight to pass measure 15-119 which would ban genetically engineered crops in Jackson County. She is also the campaign manager for the campaign.

As a family farmer, it's clear to me that few things pose as great a threat to the future of family farming than genetically engineered crops. When their pollen drifts onto farms like mine it can make the seeds that keep my farm afloat worthless. And, if I tried to sell or grow any GMO-contaminated seed it would be a violation of Monsanto's or another chemical corporation's federal patent rights. This is why myself and 150 other family farms in the Rogue Valley are working hard to pass the Family Farms Measure 15-119, which would make Jackson County the first Oregon county to prohibit growing genetically engineered crops.

It's no surprise that Monsanto, DuPont, Dow and Syngenta are now trying to swamp our county with an unprecedented flood of campaign cash to defeat the measure. They dropped $450,000 into our small county on a single day last week bringing their opposition campaign total to $812,000. For perspective, this is about eight times more money than has been spent on any previous measure campaign in County history.

Passing a measure like this may seem like a pipe dream for a rural southern Oregon county. This may be part of why we were the only county allowed to proceed with this vote despite the Legislature's ban on similar county measures in the February session. But we now have diverse support from every part of the county. I've never seen Democrats in Ashland working side by side with Republicans in Medford and Libertarians in Eagle Point, but it's happening and the out-of-state chemical corporations have every reason to be worried since their scare tactics to date have gained little traction. Our new campaign radio ad available on our website even features one of the county's largest farmers who is a conservative Republican. In the ad he announces that based on what he's learned recently he is stopping growing genetically engineered crops and is supporting Measure 15-119.

This of course, is why Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont and other corporate chemical giants are throwing money into our race. We have over 150 family farms supporting our effort and hundreds of individual and business supporters. We have two campaign field offices that are full of volunteers and we have farmers and other supporters canvassing almost nightly. And, thanks to low-priced TV and radio here, our TV ads are on all major stations. About $250 buys you a prime time TV ad here and $50 buys a top slot radio ad so we are able to compete on every level even with a budget dwarfed by team Monsanto.

A win in Jackson County sends a message to legislators that it's time to give counties back the right to decide for themselves whether to protect their family farmers from genetically engineered crops. If you value family farms and think the idea of growing crops that can cause a 10-fold increase in herbicide use doesn't make sense, then please go to our website and add yourself as a supporter of the Family Farms Measure no matter where you live and help take a stand against Monsanto, their friends, and their high-impact genetically engineered crops.

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