Our Family Farms

See Where Oregon Candidates Stand on GMO Issues

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See Where Oregon Candidates Stand on GMO Issues

Our Family Farms sent a survey to all State Representative and Senate candidates in Oregon, as well as all candidates for Jackson and Josephine County Commissioner positions to see where they stood on issues that we care about. Here's what we asked them:

1. Oregon is renowned for its world-class seed producing climate. How much do you value GE-free agricultural zones in Oregon?

2. Do you believe that the companies behind genetically engineered seeds, not the farmers who plant them, should be held accountable for GE contamination events that adversely affect non-GE crops grown nearby?

3. Oregon produces a relatively low number of GE crops per area of any state in the U.S., what would you do to ensure that those growing non-GE/GMO will not be impacted by the contamination that thousands of farmers across the U.S. have dealt with in recent years?

4. Do you think that local communities should have the right to choose if GE crops are grown in their region?

5. Oregon is 4th in the nation with regard to income from organic agricultural products. Do you support the concept of rewarding farmers who practice methods to sequester atmospheric carbon into the soil to help mitigate climate change?


All responses received are published verbatim below. This information should not be construed as an endorsement for any candidate.

If you don't see a response from your local candidate, contact them and find out where they stand. Check your ballot for a full list of candidates in your district.

Thank you for your time and support of these important issues that impact all of us!

Our Family Farms




Frank Brannen, Jackson County Position 1

1)  Very Much

2)  Accountability should follow the party who was negligent. There should not be a unilateral accountability for the farmer or for the seed company. There should be accountability for either or both parties if either acted in a manner that was negligent or that they should have known that there is a risk of cross contamination. So for example, if the seed company did not adequately disclose the risks associated with contamination, then they should be held accountable. However, if a farmer did or should have known that the seeds carried a risk of harmful contamination then they should be accountable for their actions. In either case I do be believe in accountability in the event of a harmful contamination of other crops.

3)  I would ensure that there is fair legislation to create a framework of operating principle. Stakeholders and experts should be brought to the table to discuss the issue and propose sensible solutions to ensure that our agricultural output is both adequate and safe.

4)  There needs to be a delicate balance between property owner's rights and the concerns of the community. If it is possible to ensure that contamination events can be reliably prevented and there are adequate remediation options, then the property owners rights should be paramount. In the event that contamination or remediation is not possible or likely, then the risk of public danger should take priority.

5)  As I understand the concept, sequestering carbon in the soil has positive impacts not only on the environment from a climate change perspective, but it also has positive impacts on food security, agro-industry, soil quality and water quality. I fully support any and all initiatives that remove barriers for improvement in any business. Ideally, our farmers that practice restorative land use will be rewarded with improved operations and product output quality. I would not support subsidizing farmers in order to compel them to adopt these practices. I would much rather see adoption based on merit than leverage. Supporting entities like Oregon State University Research and Extension facilities would be an example of a great way to compel farmers to adopt these healthy practices through leadership and education.

Amy Thuren, Jackson County Position 1

1)  I value GE-free agricultural zones in Oregon very much. We need areas of agriculture where normal selective breeding and hybridization are possible without the danger of contamination events.

2)  I believe that the companies behind genetically engineered seeds need to stand by their product. If there is a contamination event, they should be held responsible.

3)  Here in Jackson County, we have major agricultural operations, and need to be very careful about where and how we allow GE crops to be grown and used. I would work with the Farm Board and the Economic Development Committee to address this issue at the County level. As of right now, I would be opposed to allowing GE crops to be grown within Jackson County, unless they were grown in a very restricted way.

4) I think it is essential for local communities to have the right to choose if GE crops are grown in their region. We all have the right of self-determination. When it comes to potential contamination events, and agricultural products we all rely on, it is essential that local communities make their own decisions when it comes to GE crops.

5) I wholeheartedly support rewarding farmers who practice methods to sequester atmospheric carbon into the soil. Carbon sequestration is part of my plan to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and become energy neutral by 2050. We all have to do our part and more to combat the effects of climate change, especially given the latest report, released today by the IPCC. 

Colleen Roberts, Jackson County Position 3

At the onset of the anti-GMO movement in Jackson County, I was on board, and continue to be supportive. I helped gather signatures and publicly spoke about my recent occurrences with GMO products (flour and sugar beets). It was the grassroots efforts that was successful in getting this on the ballot; and I applaud those efforts. It was pre-emptive of the state measure, and because of the proactive movement, Jackson County is a GMO free County. As a Commissioner, I support the voice of the people and they spoke loud and clear on this issue. And yes, I feel that local communities have the right to choose if GMO products are grown in their region. Jackson County is a leader for this stand.
In question 5, I would have to admit that it is not climate change that earns my support and respect of GMO-free products, seeds, and agriculture; but it is for my health. My physician (a Naturopath), agrees heartily, and I seek to buy products in the store and at the farm stand that mirrors his request for my health--no-GMO. Also, it is interesting to note that the sugar beet sugar (GMO), does not blend well for our production purposes at the bakery; we buy pure cane sugar to get the best product.
I apologize that my answers could not fill into the perfect numbered questions. It is more of a story and path for Jackson County, and one that I have been honored to be active and a part of.

Lanita Witt, Jackson County Position 3

1)  Very much. Farmers should have the ability to grow organic crops without fear of contamination from GMOs.

2)  Yes, companies that make GE seeds should be held liable for contamination events that adversely affect non-GE crops nearby, particularly if the companies maintain such stringent property rights ownership of their GE products.

3)  We will need to work collaboratively with the state legislature to ensure that non-GMO farmers do not have to worry about contamination. One solution might be to create mandated buffer zones between GE and non-GE farms, but we would first need a study to determine how large of a buffer is adequate.

4)  I absolutely believe that this decision is up to the community if the state refuses to take a stand. Local farmers understand their needs best and should be able to take action.

5)  I do. We need to be creative in our plan to combat climate change and incentivizing farmers to using sustainable carbon-sequestering farming practices would be a great step in the right direction.



Pam Marsh, State Representative candidate for 5th District

1)  Very much. I supported the local measure and sponsored legislation in 2017 that would have given other jurisdictions the opportunity to choose for themselves whether or not to be GE-free.

2)  Yes. But I also think farmers should be held responsible for poor practices.

3)  I don’t know if there is anything we can do to ensure protection. That’s the very real risk posed by GE agriculture. However, we can impose liability and we can give local areas the opportunity to vote to be GE-free. 

4)  Yes

5)  Yes, absolutely. I have approached Our Family Farms about the prospect of partnering in such legislation.