On May 16, 2016, Judge Wolke of Josephine County, Oregon struck down a voter-approved ban on GMOs. The ruling was based on state law, passed by lawmakers in October of 2013, which established the state as the sole regulator of seeds, thereby barring localities, such as Josephine County, from regulating GMOs.
Farmers Robert and Shelley Ann White challenged the ban on GMOs last year after voters in Josephine County approved it in 2014. In effect, the Whites alleged that the ban prevented them from their livelihood, which consisted of planting biotech sugar beets on their leased, hundred acre, property. Judge Wolke agreed, ruling that “the plaintiffs have demonstrated that their conflict with the ordinance is not academic or speculative and that the determination in this case will have a practical effect on them.”
Judge Wolke’s ruling clears up the legal limbo which county officials have had to operate with for the last two years. However, support for a GMO ban continues to brew in different parts of Oregon, most recently in Lane County, where signatures are being gathered for a prospective ballot initiative.
*Code U. 993