Estimated costs of GMO ban in Jackson County

Medford, Ore. -- The Jackson County Administrator said Wednesday that banning genetically modified crops could be costly.

Commissioners are getting educated as the May primary approaches, which is when a proposed GMO ban will be in the hands of voters.

"Let me start by saying this is meant to present the facts," said Jackson County Administrator Danny Jordan.

For more than an hour, Jordan explained to commissioners the legal consequences and costs associated with a county-wide ban on genetically modified crops. The presentation comes as voters are set to decide on whether or not to adopt a GMO ban in May's primary election.

"There are a ton of variables," said Jordan.

It's an issue that has representatives from all sides of the farming community at odds. As it's now known, Biotech Company, Syngenta has been growing genetically modified seeds in the Rogue Valley for some time.

"I'm opposed to the measure. The folks I represent are opposed to the measure. I think based on what we just heard, the uncertainties are incredible. And if it's any of the (projected) costs, I just don't think it's a cost that Jackson County residents could afford," said Good Neighbor Farmers Consultant John Watts.

Jordan confirms the cost could be high. According to his projected assessment, the first years cost would be $259,300 dollars.

If voters passed a GMO ban, the county would need to enforce the new law by hiring the people necessary to process abatement and collect fines and that wouldn't come cheap.

Also a concern, potential lawsuits headed the county's way if a ban passes.

Elise Higley, Director of Our Family Farms Coalition, says the measure doesn't specify any county requirements on enforcement. Higley couldn't address commissioners; there was no opportunity for public comment at this meeting.

She'll have to wait for that, just as the community waits for the May 20th primary to see what happens with Jackson County Measure 15-119.

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