Interview: Challenging Corporations’ "Right" to Grow GMOs in Rural Oregon

Read the Dirt editor’s note: Oregonians for Community Rights has filed paperwork to begin petitioning for a “Right to Local, Community Self-Government” state constitutional amendment that would flip corporate “rights” on their head. Not only would the amendment recognize a right for local communities to adopt more stringent protections for health, safety and welfare, it would elevate that right to local self-government above corporations’ claimed constitutional privileges. This spring, activists in Benton County are campaigning for a local GMO ban that has similar language. The Initiative, Measure 2-89, asserts community rights to local self-government and seed heritage, and introduces rights for natural communities, like rivers and aquifers. Then, the ordinance declares that “corporations which violate this Ordinance shall not be deemed to be ‘persons,’ nor possess any other legal rights, privileges, powers, or protections which would interfere with the enforcement of rights or prohibitions enumerated by this Ordinance.”

After navigating years of pre-election challenges, Benton Food Freedom’s initiative will finally be voted on, this May 19th. Read some of Read the Dirt’s previous Benton coverage, here.

Simon Davis-Cohen sat down with Benton Food Freedom communication director Stephanie Hampton to learn more.

As an advocate of the ordinance, why do you think its passage is in the best interest of Benton’s residents?

Measure 2-89 will protect our local food system by elevating the rights of nature and our community above those claimed by the big chemical corporations that dominate agribusiness.

Our Benton County farmers will benefit by being sited in a GMO-free zone that they can use as a marketing tool to instill trust in their non-GMO products, which are enjoying increasing demand in the marketplace.

With the Mega-drought in Mexico and California, our valley will likely see an influx of industrial farming, with its monocultures and concentrated animal feeding operations….

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