GMOs Have More Rights Than the People of Josephine County

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Judge overturns ban on GMOs; state preemption used once again to deny right of local self-government

Corvallis, Oregon — May 17, 2016
Yesterday a Josephine County Circuit Court judge denied the will of the people of Josephine County by ruling that their prohibition on GMO crops, adopted at the ballot in May 2014, is unenforceable because a conflict with state law.

The basis of the judge’s decision was SB863, adopted by the state legislature in the fall of 2013 which places all authority over GMO seed in the hands of the state and prohibits local governments from interfering with that state authority. SB863, modeled after similar laws adopted in other states, is intended to protect corporate industrial agricultural practices over that of local, sustainable agriculture.

“It hurts to say so but yesterday’s decision is not surprising”, says Dana Allen, board member of the Oregon Community Rights Network. “So long as we allow the laws that favor corporate interests over people and nature we can expect our communities to be treated as wards of the state.”

“State preemption is but one of a number of corporate powers, privileges, and “rights” used to keep communities in a subordinate position to both state government and corporate interests”, says Kai Huschke, CELDF Northwest Organizer. “Oregon has a long history of preemption whether in agriculture, the timber industry, land use, minimum wage, housing, or health care such that the recognized conventional legal arrangement is that anything of commercial interest is kept in the hands of the corporate state leaving communities unable to make critical decisions about health, safety, welfare, and their future viability.”

Because of SB863 and decisions like the one coming out of Josephine County, a number of local community rights actions have emerged in different parts of the state (Columbia, Coos, Lane, Lincoln) in order to assert and protect the right of the people to govern in their own communities. The mobilizing issues have varied from pesticide use to LNG pipelines to methanol plants, but foundationally each effort is about asserting, through lawmaking, the right of local community self-government both in protection of fundamental rights and the rejection of imposed corporate projects.

“We need to realize that we are all in the same boat and that boat is sinking quickly”, says Michelle Holman, member of Community Rights Lane County. “Whether our issue is human rights, economic rights, protecting the environment, or stopping unwanted development, we have a structure of law that favors corporations over living breathing beings and that has to change.”

Oregonians for Community Rights, the political arm to the Oregon Community Rights Network, is moving a state constitutional amendment to secure and protect the Right of Local Community Self-Government such that authority to adopt law at the community level regarding sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy, sustainable economies, etc. cannot be preempted by the state. The law is a oneway valve allowing communities the ability to increase rights and protections not remove them as recognized by state, federal, or international law. Oregon’s Right of Local Community Self-Government amendment initiative is currently involved in a legal challenge with the state regarding broader petition circulation.

Additional Information
www.oregoncommunityrights.org , www.orcrn.org , and www.celdf.org
https://www.facebook.com/OR4CR , https://www.facebook.com/ORCRN , and
https://www.facebook.com/Community-Environmental-Legal-Defense-Fund-112830808767534/

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