An Oregon state court has invalidated a local ban on cultivating
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), holding that the ordinance
contradicts state law preventing local anti-GMO rules. White v.
Josephine Cty., No. 15-23592 (Ore. Cir. Ct., Josephine Cty., order
entered May 16, 2016). The plaintiff challenged the law after he rented
land within Josephine County then learned he could not grow his crops
there under a May 2014 ordinance prohibiting GMO-crop cultivation.

Intervenors in the case challenged the standing of the plaintiff, who
described himself as a GMO sugar-beet farmer. According to the court,
the intervenors argued that “the plaintiffs are posing as GMO farmers
so that large chemical companies through them can attack the local
ordinance.” The court disagreed, finding ample evidence to grant the
plaintiff standing.

Turning to the content of the ordinance, the court held that the state
statute preempted the local law. “[T]he conflict could not be more clear
that the County’s GMO ordinance and [the state law] are incompatible,”
the court found. “The state law says that the localities may not legislate in
this area, and the voters of Josephine County have attempted to legislate
in the exact same area. It is impossible to read the two enactments in
harmony; so that the local ordinance must give way.”


Issue 605

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  1. […] inadvertently. In the United States, multiple jurisdictions have banned GM crops, but courts have invalidated some bans on the grounds of preemption. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has provided […]

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