County in Oregon Soon to be GMO-Free

In three weeks, propagating, raising or growing any kind of genetically-modified crop will be considered criminal activity in Josephine County, Oregon. That’s because a year ago on May 20, 2014, the county made American history when it passed an ordinance banning genetically-modified organisms, giving people until September 4, 2015 to remove, harvest or burn crops containing them. Made up of approximately 83,000 citizens, Josephine Country passed the “Genetically-Engineered Plant Ordinance” as part of its efforts to eliminate GMOs in the region. The community is currently planning its GMO-FREE ZONE Celebration on September 4 during which people will post signs throughout the region boasting its newly-acquired GMO-free status to visitors and residents alike.

Despite spending $800,000 in its efforts to overturn the legislation, Syngenta has been forced to remove its genetically-modified sugar beet crops in the area and move its offices out of the region. Its warehouse has been abandoned. While Syngenta claims to improve food security in an environmentally-sustainable way with its genetically-modified seed, the company faces mounting lawsuits from farmers over their inability to ship corn produced using Syngenta’s genetically-modified corn seed internationally. According to the news source, there have been over 1300 lawsuits filed by farmers in Minnesota alone. Syngenta is one of the world’s largest genetically-modified seeds manufacturers as well as the world’s largest crop chemical producer.

Josephine Country has been increasingly known for its efforts to restore the community’s food supply to non-genetically-modified options, including the organization GMO-Free Josephine County and the Food Integrity Project. According to the Director of the Food Integrity Project and a founding member of GMO-Free Josephine Country, Karen Daggett Austin, “The purpose of the Food Integrity Project is to support our local community-minded, sustainably-aware restaurants who would like to participate and provide GMO-free menu items for our community.” The project works with restaurants to help them source food items free of genetically-engineered organisms, allowing them to indicate menu items that are GMO-free so patrons can make informed choices. To date, ten restaurants in the region have participated in the review process involved as part of Food Integrity Project, during which individual ingredients in each dish are assessed to eliminate any GMO ingredients. Ms. Daggett Austin adds that “the vast majority of people in our county, our state, and in America, actually, do want food labeled.”

According to Dan Bowden, Certified Nutritional Therapist in Josephine Country, “Genetically-modified organisms have novel DNA; this is DNA that has never been known before on planet Earth.” He adds: “My concern [about GMOs] is that we are going to have more and more impacts to human health, animal health, and to environmental health.”

However, Bill “HR 1599,” which is also known by many anti-GMO groups as “The Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts” or the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” Act (DARK Act) may prevent Josephine County or other counties across the U.S. from enforcing the region’s right to be free of GMOs. Additionally, the state of Oregon recently created legislation banning local bans on genetically-modified crops, although there are allegations that the state legislation may have been illegally backdated in an effort to stop Josephine County from making American history with its GMO-free zone.

While there have been and likely will continue to be a legal and financial backlash against the soon-to-be GMO-free Josephine County, I applaud the county’s initiative, drive and vision to stand up for the integrity of the food supply as well as human and environmental health.

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Photo Credit: GMO-Free Josephine Country Facebook Page


William C
William C8 months ago


Neville B.
Neville B2 years ago

Yay! Go Josephine County!

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Ruth R.
Ruth R3 years ago

I am glad to find that people are making a true and peaceful effort to let a small area of the world become non-gmo.

Thank you for posting these article on this topic here. Hope to have labelling. Know that the True America would never have allowed gmos.

Let's find out what will be useful: here are some thoughts.
Due to this let people be thankful -- and join
1.) Organic Consumers
2. and many other organizations that have done the research and will hopefully be taking the stand to stop gmos -- at least the ones that pose the most threat, and the ones that will organize class action law suits, or single law suits.
3.) Say your prayers, or send your good will, or light your candles.
4.) Get educated in a way to make a stand.
5.) )If you are ready then help prevent these 7 or more gmo companies and/or the smaller ones from taking over the world.
6.) May the grandchildren of some one here who are young adults of college age will help deal with this situation -- that many people like organic and non-gmo food.
7.) This long like a long -term battle, however their may a clich in the gmo system?

Roberto MARINI
Roberto M3 years ago

fantastic idea.

Ruth R.
Ruth R3 years ago

Thank You!

Benjamin Collier
Benjamin Collier3 years ago

Is there a petition to sign to support the 83,000 residents of Josephine County ? Money of the GMO corporations talks loudly, but the voices of thousands of people talk louder, lets get behind the people in Josephine County !

Priscilla G.
Priscilla G3 years ago

This is great news congratulations Josephine County, it sounds as tho you still have a fight on your hands to keep yourselves GMO free, keep up the good work and stay strong. I hope that other County's and States follow this decision and eventually the rest of the world too. It is time for these big companies to tell the truth about GMO and what it is doing to us.

Amy C.
Amy C3 years ago

strange- GMOs have "novel DNA" with unknown implications

Roberto MARINI
Roberto M3 years ago

very good news