Last year, the citizens of Jackson County Oregon voted to ban the planting of GMO crops because the pollens from those poisons tended to fly with the wind and contaminate organic crops. Monsanto, using GMO farmers, challenged the right of voters in court to secure their livelihoods with the ordinance banning the GMO poisons.
Last Friday, Federal Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke dismissed the legal challenge brought by commercial farmers who use Monsanto’s genetically modified alfalfa seeds. The GMO farmers claimed the anti-GMO ordinance violated their right to farm.
However Judge Clarke concluded that exactly the opposite was the case. He held that the county’s no-GMO seed ordinance could take effect this week, citing earlier state legislation that protected commercial farms, in this case organic farmers, from harm from other commercial enterprises, such as the commercial farms whose GMO-laced alfalfa pollen gets carried by the wind and can’t be stopped from tainting organic crops.
“Farmers have always been able to bring claims against other farmers for practices that cause actionable damage to their commercial agriculture products,” Clarke wrote. “The Ordinance, by contrast, is enacted pursuant to section 30.935 [of state law], and serves to prevent such damage before it happens.”
After Jackson County banned the use of GMO seeds, Monsanto and other GMO poison manufacturers successfully lobbied the state legislature of Oregon to ban the banning of GMO seed planting on the county level, but excluded the already voted on Jackson County ordinance. Now, however, with this ruling, the state ban on the other counties appears to violate the equal protection clause of the US Constitution, and it will likely be rendered moot, as another county in Oregon voted to ban the planting of GMO seeds, and is currently pursuing its claim to do so in court.
A spokesperson for the Coalition of Organic Farmers in Jackson County said via email, “We just learned this afternoon that we have WON the Monsanto-backed legal challenge attempting to overturn our Jackson County ban on genetically engineered crops. The court upheld the Ordinance on the grounds that it was intended to protect against damage to commercial agricultural products, which is allowed under the Right to Farm Act, and because it was expressly allowed by the Oregon Legislature.
“While this is an incredible victory for family farmers standing up to the GMO giants, we do know there is a real chance Monsanto and their ilk could appeal this decision so the battle is not really over yet,” the email said. “Also, the Plaintiffs’ claims that the GMO ban constitutes a constitutional “taking” will now have to be litigated in the second phase of the case.”
Expect Monsanto to encourage and fund local GMO farmers to appeal Clarke’s decision to a federal appeals court, meaning this fight is not finished.