Lawyers fight over Josephine County GMO ban

The lawsuit focuses on whether state law trumps the county's ban

Protester urge a no vote on Oregon Senate Bill 633 that would prohibit local governments from banning genetically modified crops, Sept. 26, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Protester urge a no vote on Oregon Senate Bill 633 that would prohibit local governments from banning genetically modified crops, Sept. 26, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Farmers seeking to overturn the ban against genetically modified crops in Josephine County are under fire in court.

The Capital Press reports a court hearing this week over the validity of the county’s prohibition largely centered on whether the plaintiffs even have the right to challenge it.

The fundamental dispute in the lawsuit is whether state law overrules the county’s prohibition against genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Oregon lawmakers pre-empted most local GMO regulations in 2013 but Josephine County voters approved a ballot initiative banning such crops the following year.

Landowners Robert and Shelley Ann White filed a lawsuit challenging the GMO ordinance shortly before it was set to go into effective in September 2015.

While the county government decided not to defend the ordinance, proponents of the ballot initiative – Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families and Siskiyou Seeds – voluntarily intervened in the case as defendants.

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