Statement on Passage of SB 863 – the Oregon Monsanto Protection Act
Statement on the passage of SB 863 from Ivan Maluski, Director, Friends of Family Farmers:
It is incredibly disappointing that the Oregon Legislature has voted today to take away the rights of Oregonians to establish local food and agriculture ordinances intended to protect the viability of local farms, food and agriculture. This legislation is a clear giveaway to a handful of out-of-state agrochemical companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and others and does nothing to protect Oregon farmers from the increasing risks of cross-contamination with genetically engineered (GE) material.
This bill comes at the expense of local communities and farmers concerned about the lack of transparency and effective oversight of genetically engineered crops and foods at the state and federal levels, and takes away their ability to protect their right to farm, and the right to know what’s in their food, through local government action. This controversial bill should have never been included in an unrelated tax and pension bill package, and should have been considered alongside legislation that would have strengthened farmer and consumer protections during a regular legislative session.
While we appreciate that the Governor intends to direct the Oregon Department of Agriculture to use existing authority to increase protections for farmers from unintended genetic cross contamination from GE sources, we expect that the same powerful interests responsible for inserting SB 863 in the so-called ‘grand bargain’ will continue to obstruct, delay, oppose and fight any and all state, federal and local policies intended to protect farmers and consumers from unwanted GE material. Time will tell whether the Governor’s commitment to these issues is substantial enough to overcome the powerful special interests that oppose state, local and federal policies to increase transparency and oversight over the GE crops and foods that pose tremendous economic risks for Oregon farmers.
Given the removal of local democratic decision-making through SB 863, we intend to hold the Governor and legislature accountable to ensure the enactment and implementation of state-level GE agriculture and food policies that strengthen protections for farmers and consumers.