Elise Higley is a Jackson County, Oregon farmer and the director of Our Family Farms Coalition which is standing firm against Monsanto’s attempt to stall measure 15-199 which would ban genetically modified crops in Jackson County. As the campaign manager, she reflects on why the Big Ag bully is so afraid of one little town.
As the campaign’s manager, and a farmer, Higley is familiar with the threat of GMO crops. GMO pollen can drift into farms such as her own, making her organic farming methods worthless and causing viable seeds to become suicide seeds at the hands of Monsanto, Dow, and other agricultural companies. If she even tried to sell her food grown on her own land, she would be in violation of Monsanto’s (or insert any big Ag company here) federal seed patent rights. This is why Higley and 150 other farming families want the Family Farms Measure 15-199 to pass. It would make Jackson County the only place in the U.S. to expressly prohibit the growing of GMO crops.
Higley isn’t surprised that Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, Dupont, etc. are trying to flood the area with pro-GMO propaganda. They certainly have the cash to do it. In a tiny county in the U.S., they spent over $450,000 in a single week, making their total GMO campaign in Jackson total $812,000 thus far. This is about eight times more than an agricultural company or other special interest group has ever spent on a previous measure in the county’s history.
The David and Goliath comparison is beyond apropos for Jackson County. Many thought they could never stand against Agribusiness, and this is likely why they were allowed to proceed with a vote despite the legislative ban on similar measures put before the county last February, but the world is watching now, and Monsanto and their biotech friends are too. If Jackson County passed a ban – so too could others. This is why the biotech giant is throwing around money like a high-stakes poker game.
Read: Maui Petition Launched to Fight GMO, Monsanto Responds
Big Ag and biotech are also afraid because the measure has bi-partisan support. Both Democrats and Republicans as well as Libertarians are united against the monopolies that are destroying the world’s food supply – they simply aren’t going to allow it in Jackson without a fight. Higley says:
“Our new campaign radio ad available on our website even features one of the county’s largest farmers who is a conservative Republican. In the ad he announces that based on what he’s learned recently he is stopping growing genetically engineered crops and is supporting Measure 15-119.
This of course, is why Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont and other corporate chemical giants are throwing money into our race. We have over 150 family farms supporting our effort and hundreds of individual and business supporters. We have two campaign field offices that are full of volunteers and we have farmers and other supporters canvassing almost nightly. And, thanks to low-priced TV and radio here, our TV ads are on all major stations. About $250 buys you a prime time TV ad here and $50 buys a top slot radio ad so we are able to compete on every level even with a budget dwarfed by team Monsanto.”
Most of us have attempted contacting our representatives at the federal level. Then, states tried to pass labeling bills, and Monsanto’s perverse campaign money stopped bills in California and Washington with illegal contributions to the tune of more than $46 million. It looks like the little guy just might win the fight this time. Jackson County is sending a message to legislators that it’s time to give counties back the right to decide for themselves whether to protect their family farmers from genetically engineered crops.
No one wants to keep spraying herbicides that cause cancer, reproductive failure, and organ damage. No one wants to eat poison that also kills bees, and butterflies, and can eventually eradicate indigenous seed. No one is taking this sitting down anymore. Stand up and fight back, and help little Jackson County send a big message to the world.
You can go to the website and add yourself as a supporter of the Family Farms Measure even if you live in Pakistan Russia, Idaho, California, or New York City. Send the message. Make it loud.