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Oregon county seeks to ban GMO crops, asserts community rights

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GMO crops like these Roundup Ready sugar beets near Monroe would be outlawed in 
Benton County under Measure 2-89, but the initiative would have to stand up to 
legal challenges in court. Photo: Amanda Cowan

M2-89 relies on ‘community rights’ to challenge Oregon statute

May 05, 2015 8:00 pm  • 

A ban on genetically modified crops is not the most radical part of Measure 2-89.

The most radical part of the Benton County ballot measure is its attempt to circumvent state law by asserting a fundamental right of local self-governance, even in the face of state or federal law.

If passed by voters in the May 19 special election, Measure 2-89 — also known as the Benton County Local Food System Ordinance — would prohibit corporations and government entities from using genetically modified organisms anywhere in the county and require them to harvest, remove or destroy all GMOs within 90 days of passage.

But in order for the measure to take effect, it would have to override Oregon Revised Statute 633.738, a two-year-old state law that bars local jurisdictions from regulating seeds or agricultural production.

In high-flown language reminiscent of the nation’s founding documents, M2-89 begins with a statement of “findings and intent” that directly challenges the rights of corporations and the authority of state and federal laws, culminating in this remarkable statement:

“We the people of Benton County therefore enact this local law pursuant to the inherent and inalienable right of the residents of Benton County to govern their own county for their own health, safety and welfare. That authority is also secured by the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that governments are instituted to secure the rights of the people, in the State Constitution of Oregon’s recognition that all power is inherent in the people, and in the Benton County Charter, which delegates the authority to the people and their representatives to enact local legislation on matters of county concern.”

The question, of course, is this: Can they really get away with that?

….. continued at site

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