Oregon Counties Approve GMO Ban

Voters in Jackson and Josephine counties in southwest Oregon voted to ban genetically modified crops on May 20. According to National Public Radio (NPR), the measure in Jackson County passed by a 2-to-1 margin and 58 percent of the voters in Josephine County agreed with the ban.

“It’s a great day for the people of Oregon who care about sustainability and healthy ecosystems,” the advocacy group GMO Free Oregon said in an announcement on Facebook.

Advocates for GMO bans have been pushing for regulation and labeling in recent years while experiencing opposition from agricultural and food industry​ leaders, twho say GMOs are safe for consumption. NPR reported that those who opposed the ban were backed by big corporations including Syngenta and DuPont Pioneer as well as Monsanto.

Oregon passed a law in the fall of 2014 that prevents local governments from regulating GMOs; however, Jackson County was exempted from the law because the ballot measure was already being created before it was passed. NPR stated that although the ban approved in Josephine County, it will be challenged in court.

States are increasingly turning to the regulation of GMOs. Vermont passed a law in early May that requires food producers to label products that contain ingredients that are genetically modified, while Maine and Connecticut approved similar requirements, NPR reported.

The harmful effects of GMOs
​According to the University of Minnesota, there are several harmful effects associated with GMOs. This broad group of plants, animals and bacteria are engineered for a variety of uses ranging from agricultural production to scientific research.

Although GMOs have been approved as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are several potential health effects that can result from them, including increased toxicity, antibiotic resistance, new allergens and decreased nutrition. According to the University of Minnesota, when products are ingested that are made from a genetically modified food known to cause allergies in adults and children, it can cause the body to trigger an immune response.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become more common in  recent years. The source stated that scientists use antibiotic-resistant genes when inserting new genes into plants. The more this product is consumed, the more likely it is to cause the bacteria naturally living in the guts of humans and even animals to pick up the gene.

When an exotic gene is inserted into a plant due to genetic modification, there is concern that the plant may then begin to produce toxins at higher levels than what are considered normal and become a danger to humans.

GMOs could also pose a nutritional risk to humans because they isn’t an authentic product. The University of Minnesota said that an inserted gene may cause a plant to producer high levels of phytate, which will lower the nutritional value of the plant.

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