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Group Wants Lawmakers To Allow Local Bans On Genetically Engineered Crops

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Anna King
/
Northwest News Network
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Some Oregon farming groups want state lawmakers to allow counties to regulate or even ban genetically engineered crops. The legislature took away that right in 2013 during a special session. At the time, opponents of genetically engineered crops were told that a statewide policy would be forthcoming.

Elise Higley, director of the group Our Family Farms, said she's tired of waiting for the state to act.

"We are saying we want action now,” Higley said. “And if you can't get it together in four years, we want that responsibility and that back. We want to deal with it on our own."

The measure would allow genetically engineered crops to be regulated by local officials or by county initiatives.

Voters in Jackson County approved a ban on such crops in 2014 that was permitted to take effect because it had qualified for the ballot before lawmakers took the decision out of the hands of local communities.

Voters in Josephine County also banned genetically engineered crops in 2014. But the ban was never enforced since it didn't qualify for the ballot until after lawmakers passed the statewide preemption law. That law was part of a carefully negotiated package of bills in a special session.

The package also included cost-cutting changes to the state's public pension system. Many of the pension changes were later thrown out by the Oregon Supreme Court.

Copyright 2017 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.