News 3 commentslast update:14 Jan 2016

US: GMO cultivation banned in Washington State county

In San Juan County, Washing State, the population 16,000 voted in favour of banning the “propagation, cultivation or growing of genetically modified organisms” in the county.

The initiative 2012-4 was won by a 1.5 to 1 majority.

Opponents said that approving the initiative would make the residents of San Juan County appear like “elitists, ignorant to the benefits of technological advances, and uncaring about the planet and its inhabitants”.  Larry Salquest who was the principal spokesperson for the opponents commented that the ban on growing GMO was “unnecessary, unenforceable and unwise.”

According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the county has 291 farms producing US$4 million (€3 mln) in crops annually.

Violation of the ban
The first violation is a Class 1 civil infraction carrying a $250 penalty plus statutory assessments. The second violation is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, 90 days in jail, or both. A third or subsequent violation is a gross misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, 365 days in jail, or both.

According to the initiative, criminal charges will be brought only when civil remedies have failed to ensure compliance.

The initiative does allow for the growth of hybrid organisms and GMOs to be grown by health-care providers and researchers in secure environments. It will not affect GMO products sold in local grocery stores.



  • SuperMario

    Hat down to you all the way from UK!!! Well done, I salute your decision. GMO is a disaster of biblical proportions. Not only that yield is failing to materialize but use of pesticide is increasing at shocking 25% per year fighting GMO Frankenstein weed which nothing can kill any longer. You have made my day!

  • Chrys

    This is good news. However, San Juan is a county, not a country; in the state of Washington. A little proof-reading goes a long way.

  • Robert Wager

    Two points not made in the article. First is this is a Federal Jurisdiction so the county in not permitted to fine anyone for federally legal planting of GM crops.

    Second even Europe finds that GM crops are safe.
    'The main conclu-
    sion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research
    projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research,
    and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is
    that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not
    per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technolo-
    gies...Now, after 25 years of field trials without evidence of harm,
    fears continue to trigger the Precautionary Principle. But
    Europeans need to abandon this knowingly one-sided stance
    and strike a balance between the advantages and disadvan-
    tages of the technology on the basis of scientifically sound
    risk assessment analysis.

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