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Activists Want To Lift State Ban On Local GE Crop Regulations

File photo
Anna King
Northwest News Network
File photo

Opponents of genetically engineered crops in Oregon want state lawmakers to allow local governments to ban those crops. The measure under consideration would reverse a bill approved during a special session less than three years ago.

Some farmers, especially those who grow organic or specialty crops, told lawmakers that their livelihoods are at risk because genetically engineered material can make its way into their fields. Ivan Maluski is with a group called Friends of Family Farmers. He said the bill wouldn't immediately change anything.

"All we're simply asking is that local communities should have the option to be able to enact local protections,” Maluski said.

The state's larger agriculture groups oppose that. They say the bill would lead to a confusing patchwork of regulations.

One county in Oregon already prohibits genetically engineered crops. Jackson County's ban was permitted because it qualified for the ballot there before the 2013 special session.

The ban on local regulation of genetically engineered crops was narrowly approved by lawmakers in October 2013. It was part of an agreement dubbed the "Grand Bargain." The centerpiece was a measure to rein in public pension costs. That bill was later largely thrown out by the Oregon Supreme Court.

The current measure is before the Oregon House Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
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.