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American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) reports:

By almost a 2-1 margin, the residents of Jackson County, Oregon passed a ballot initiative to ban GE crops in the southwestern Oregon county. As passed, the ordinance bans any person from propagating, cultivating, raising or growing genetically engineered plants in Jackson County.

Barry Bushue, president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, said, "Regrettably ideology defeated sound science and common sense in Jackson County."

Garnering national attention, almost $1 million was raised to defeat the proposed ban.

"The voters here have many generations of fruit and vegetable growing, so they're among the most educated voters," said Chuck Burr, president of the Southern Oregon Seed Growers Association. "The opposition spent a million dollars and couldn't convince the people."

Nearby Josephine County had a similar vote with a similar outcome. However, because the Oregon legislature passed a pre-emption law last session, the courts will ultimately decide the validity of that vote. Jackson County was specifically exempted in the bill because the ballot initiative was already underway when the law went into effect. Three other counties plan to have similar initiatives in the near future, defying the state pre-emption law.

Enforcement by the county is estimated to cost $219,000 per year. Farmers are required to harvest, destroy or remove all genetically engineered plants within 12 months.

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