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 Cnty., No. 15-23592 (Ore. Cir. Ct., Josephine Cnty., 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.”