WHAT IS A SEED SANCTUARY AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
With the "Green Revolution" in the 1980’s, agriculture became industrialized, and genetically engineered commodity crops (corn, sugar beets, canola, cotton, and soy) became the norm. These crops are subsidized by the U.S. government, and are planted in hundreds of millions of acres across the U.S.
Not only are these crops grown with multiple applications of pesticides, they have the ability to spread their pollen and contaminate traditional crops growing nearby. In fact, corn pollen can travel up to 16 miles in a windy area! So establishing GE-free zones, or seed sanctuaries, is very important so we can maintain regions where traditional crops can be grown without the risk of contamination.
WHY ARE FAMILY FARMERS CONCERNED ABOUT CONTAMINATION FROM GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS AND WHY DO THEY NEED OUR HELP?
If a farmer's traditional crop becomes contaminated by genetically engineered crops, that farmer's crop becomes illegal to sell or save the seed because it would contain the intellectual property of the patent holder (for example, Monsanto, Syngenta, or other chemical companies that created the genetically engineered seed.)
Local Regions with Prohibitions on the Cultivation of GMOs:
Humboldt County (+Arcata City)
Mendocino County (+City of Point Arena)
Santa Cruz County
Boulder County (+Boulder City): planned ban GMO corn and sugar beets on county-owned land by 2023 & 2025 respectively
San Juan County
Kangaroo Island in South Australia
WHO IS OUR FAMILY FARMS?
We’re a 501(c)3 nonprofit established in Jackson County Oregon in 2016. We are a coalition of family farmers and individuals who envision a thriving, sustainable food and agricultural system with seed diversity and farmable land for generations to come.
Our Family Farms educates and inspires farmers, policy makers and the community at large to support regenerative agricultural practices.
We are committed to:
- protecting traditional seeds and the farmers growing them from the contamination of genetically engineered crops. A critical first step in this effort was the passage of the Family Farms Measure 15-119 on May 20, 2014. This Measure laid the groundwork for creating a GMO free seed sanctuary in Jackson County, which is a world class seed growing region.
- defending Jackson County's GMO ban ordinance. After successfully defending the ordinace against a lawsuit filed by owners of two alfalfa farms that grow genetically enhanced, Roundup Ready crops on November 18, 2014.
- working with farmers, legislators, scientists, and concerned citizens to educate them regarding the benefits of farming practices that keep genetically engineered crops out of designated regions. Without these seed sanctuaries, genetically engineered crops can and will contaminate traditional crops, subjecting farmers to potential lawsuits and threatening the integrity of our seed supply.
WHO IS OUR FAMILY FARMS COALITION?
Our Family Farms Coalition (OFFC) is a 501(c)4 organization that was founded to protect family farmers and our community in Jackson County from the risks of genetically engineered crops. Rogue Valley farmers whose ability to farm and sell their crops was threatened by genetically engineered crops came together to create OFFC and help get the Family Farms Measure 15-119 on the ballot. They believed that the only way to keep traditional crops and seeds from being contaminated by gmo pollen was to create a GE-free zone.
Some of these farmers, such as the OFFC’s director Elise Higley and one of the Measure's chief petitioners, Chris Hardy, were actively involved in collecting signatures that qualified the Measure for the ballot. Others joined together on the night of January 16, 2014 in Ruch with the goal of passing the Family Farms Measure and protecting Rogue Valley farms from genetically engineered crops.
FAMILY FARMS MEASURE 15-119
Summary of the measure: This ordinance bans any person from propagating, cultivating, raising or growing “genetically-engineered” (defined) plants in Jackson County.
The Ordinance also:
- Requires affected persons to harvest, destroy or remove all genetically engineered plants within 12 months of the enactment of the ordinance;
- Provides exemptions for certain health, educational, scientific and medical research institutions if activities are conducted under secure, indoor laboratory conditions;
- Allows for inspections of private property by County code enforcement officers after obtaining a search warrant;
- Allows for enforcement of the ordinance by the County and by private persons or groups through the State court system;
- Provides for contested hearings and appeals for alleged violations;
- Allows the County to recover the cost of abatement from the property owner or the person causing the violation;
- Defines the terms “genetically engineered,” “organic agriculture,” and “organic;”