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Special Session GMO Bill Raises Eyebrows In Oregon


Critics of genetically modified foods are lobbying hard to get the issue off the agenda in next week’s special legislative session in Salem.

Oregon lawmakers will return to the capitol Monday to vote on taxes and pensions. But the negotiated series of bills includes a measure to preempt local bans on GMOs.

The special session follows an agreement between legislative leaders and Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber. It includes some tax hikes and tax cuts. The deal also comes with cuts to pensions for some retired public employees.

But to win some yes votes, negotiators agreed to include a completely unrelated item. It would override future local bans on genetically modified organisms.

GMO opponent Ivan Maluski of the group Friends of Family Farmers says there's no justification for including it in a special session on budget issues.

"It's outrageous that this bill has come up in this way," Maluski says. "If we want to have a discussion of the appropriate policies around genetically engineered foods and crops, we should be saving that for a regular session."

A similar bill passed the Oregon Senate in May but died in the House. Supporters of the measure say it would prevent what they call a "patchwork" of local agricultural regulations.

On the Web:

SB 633 from 2013 regular session - Oregon Legislature 

Copyright 2013 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.