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Schwabe in The Field: Josephine County Court Strikes down Genetically Modified Crops Ordinance

May 19, 2016


Josephine County Court Strikes Down Genetically Modified Crops Ordinance

By Anna Helton, attorney

On Monday, the Josephine County Circuit Court issued an opinion finding that a county’s ordinance that prevented farmers from growing genetically modified crops in Josephine County was unlawful. The two Josephine County growers who brought the lawsuit argued that an existing state law preempted the ordinance. That state law prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances or other local laws that prevent or inhibit the production or use of seeds or products of seeds.

Agreeing with the two growers, the Court wrote that “the conflict could not be more clear….” Josephine County’s anti-GMO ordinance was an attempt to legislate in an area that state law already covers. As a result, the Court wrote that “the local ordinance must give way.”

It is expected that the court’s final judgment will prohibit Josephine County from taking any action to enforce the ordinance, allowing Josephine County growers to plant and grow GMO crops without concern of county-imposed fines or fear that their crops will be confiscated and destroyed.


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