In a small corner of a small state voters won a decisive victory of industrial giant Mansanto, maker of most of the country’s genetically modified seeds.
Here’s a snapshot of the story:
“Despite the flood of corporate money poured into two small Oregon counties, local residents voted on Tuesday to ban genetically engineered crops from being planted within their borders.
Although Jackson County itself is home to less than 120,000 registered voters, the measure to ban genetically modified crops (GMOs) made headlines around the nation when it was revealed that large biotech companies like Monsanto were pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the area in order to affect the vote’s outcome.
As RT reported previously, Monsanto and five other corporations spent at least $455,000 in an attempt to defeat the initiative, and opponents of the GMO ban had gained an eight-to-one spending advantage as of April. According to the Associated Press, nearly $1 million of the $1.3 million spent during the campaign was used by opponents.
When the results were tallied, however, 66 percent of Jackson County residents voted in favor of the ban.
“We fought the most powerful and influential chemical companies in the world and we won,” local farmer and anti-GMO advocate Elise Higley told the Oregonian.
“It’s a great day for the people of Oregon who care about sustainability and healthy ecosystems,” added the group GMO Free Oregon on its Facebook page.
As noted by Reuters, the newly approved measure mandates that people “harvest, destroy or remove all genetically engineered plants”no later than 12 months after the ordinance goes into effect. The process of getting the proposal to a vote has taken about two years, and began over concerns that GMO crops planted by some farmers would drift onto other, non-GMO farms and contaminate them.
It is a monumental victory, even as the rest of the state has already passed laws that block counties from passing the same type of restriction Jackson County just passed. Mansanto’s influence over the largely Democratic legislature was so significant it blocked anyone who tries to pass similar laws.
Nationwide the fight has centered on labeling laws, which again Mansanto has tried to block, using the same strategies it uses in Oregon.
As RT reported earlier this month, Vermont will become the first state to require GMO labels on its food. That regulation is expected to go into effect in July 2016, but is sure to face legal challenges from opponents.
In other states, initial polling support for labeling cratered under what was reported to be heavy spending by the likes of DuPont and Monsanto. Both California and Washington state considered labels last year, but the proposals ultimately failed after millions of dollars of corporate spending entered the equation.
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo (Kan.) has introduced a bill in Congress that would prohibit all states from implementing their own labeling laws, on the grounds that having each state create its own rules would result in “a patchwork” of requirements“that makes it enormously difficult to operate a food system.”
The Jackson County law goes beyond labels and enacts a prohibition of GMO seeds. Health advocates from across the country must pay attention now to their state legislatures who will quickly try to pass laws similar to Oregon’s that block similar laws in other regions.
Why all the fuss? Because a farmer that uses GMO products will contaminate those that don’t. By banning them from the county, Jackson County can protect its organic, natural farmers from Mansanto’s influence and denigration.
In some states it is already illegal to harvest your own naturally grown seed. Mansanto employees a team of lawyers that sue those who make their living from harvesting seed. They are like jack-booted thugs who are trying to eliminate all but their own product, and have found willing accomplices in our state and local governments, while we ignore the onslaught.
In case you missed it, Mansanto is not a food company, per se. It’s a chemical company, the makers of such cancer-causing chemicals like Round-up and Cross Bow. The company produces GMO seeds to withstand the assault of their chemicals so they can sell much of both.
What we eat remains one of the most vital political and health issues we face. To allow our food sources to be forever corrupted by the likes of a chemical company is an appalling lack of civic duty.
The residents of Jackson County chose to do otherwise, by overwhelmingly popular vote. The attack will only increase in days to come. The time to pay attention is now. Before your cozy state legislators make such laws impossible to enact.