Organic Farmers in Southern Ore. Seek Ban on GMOs

Ashland seed farmer Chuck Burr said he has a personal reason to support a proposed ban on genetically modified organisms in Jackson County.

He had to throw away $4,700 in chard seed after learning it might have been contaminated with pollen from nearby GMO fields.

“I’m up against it here,” said Burr, the owner of the 10-acre Restoration Farm on Old Siskiyou Highway. “I have to make a living, and I have an absolutely constitutional right to engage in commerce.

“And if another company comes in from outside the area and prevents me from doing it, then my rights trump theirs.”

Burr vigorously supports the campaign of GMO-Free Jackson County, which filed 6,700 signatures with the elections office on Wednesday in the hopes of placing a ballot measure that would ban genetically modified crops on the May 2014 primary ballot.

Petitioners Brian Comnes and Chris Hardy, both of Ashland, said only 4,462 signatures are required, but if too many are ruled invalid, they’ll have a year to gather more names.

Comnes said backers plan to address the Jackson County Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting, then hold a rally on the courthouse steps and march to the elections office several blocks away to file the signatures.

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