Why would the Oregon Legislature help out Monsanto?

By Elise Higley of Applegate, Oregon. Elise is Director at Our Family Farms Coalition.

Last year my farm and 150 other family farms in Jackson County, Oregon did what many said was impossible: we passed a ballot measure banning genetically engineered crops. The goal was simple: protect our traditional and organically grown crops from contamination by the GMO crops legally patented by Monsanto, Syngenta and the other chemical giants. Monsanto and their ilk spent almost $ 1 million to defeat our measure, but we won and are now in a heated lawsuit trying to defend our democratic vote.

But to the surprise of myself and many other family farmers, the Oregon House recently passed a bill backed by Rep. Brian Clem that could undermine Jackson County’s ban on GMOs. It would also prevent other future local and state laws aimed at protecting family farmers from other industrial agricultural practices. But House Bill 3212 would go far beyond that. This is why groups as diverse as Friends of Family Famers, the Center for Food Safety and the Oregon Chapter Sierra Club all oppose HB 3212.

HB 3212 would broadly expand the controversial landowner compensations rights first approved in Measure 37 and amended in Measure 49 to include any laws aimed at farming practices. It would give farm landowners the right to demand either “compensation” payments from cash-strapped cities or counties or the outright waiver of laws. In HB 3212’s crosshairs are not only our local ban on GMOs, but potential limitations on aerial herbicide spraying to protect sensitive crops, pesticide limits aimed at protecting bees and sensitive pollinators, animal welfare laws (such as minimum cage sizes for chickens) or even water conservation laws.

Laws like this are great if your interests are aligned with Monsanto or those committed to the industrial farming combo of GMOs and the heavy herbicide spraying GMOs are engineered to encourage. For myself and many other family farmers, however, HB 3212 would be a major step backwards and we encourage everyone to given their State Senators a call or email opposing HB 3212 today.

For more info and legislative links visit OurFamilyFarmsCoalition.org.

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