For Immediate Release

“Monsanto Protection Act” Spreads to Oregon in New Bill Passed that Will Ban Local Control Over Food and Farms

OREGON - Last week, SB 633, a bill that strips all local control of agricultural seed and seed production and replaces it with a “one size fits all” policy dictated by the state passed out of the Rural Communities and Economic Development committee by a vote of 3 to 2 in favor. SB 633, known as Oregon’s Monsanto Protection Act, earned the support of the committee Chair, Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) whose office has cited the passage of Section 735, known as Monsanto Protection Act, of H.R. 933, as justification of the dangerous new seed preemption bill that is now awaiting a full vote on the Oregon Senate floor.

Under current Oregon law, local citizens have the right to make democratic decisions concerning local agricultural practices and Oregon’s Monsanto Protection Act is seen as a corporate handout to agribusiness to protect biotech seed and chemical monopolies like Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta from the growing number of American farmers and citizens who have become concerned about the flaws of genetically engineered crops and the undemocratic lobbying method these giant multinational companies use to deceptively garner growth in the marketplace.

"Barely two weeks after sneaking into U.S law, the Monsanto Protection Act is being cited as an example to strip Oregon’s family farmers of their basic democratic rights," said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!  "By siting Section 735, better known as the Monsanto Protection Act, as a reason to subvert the citizen-led ballot initiative process, Oregon Senators have proven that the Monsanto Protection Act is a part of a well-coordinated effort by Monsanto and the biotech industry to undermine simple protections from GMO crops that a growing number of farmers and citizens across the U.S. are demanding."

Ominously, the Monsanto Protection Act, Section 735, is cited as supporting evidence for the Oregon seed preemption bill in an email to a constituent from Rosie Shatkin, Roblan’s legislative policy adviser. According to Senator Roblan’s office:

"With this background information in mind, and given that the DA promulgated rules through the APHIS, does the CFCAA, 2013, H.B. 933 § 735, impact a State’s ability to regulate GMOs?  In essence, one reviewer of the act noted that ‘Even if the courts find that a (genetically engineered) crop shouldn’t be planted until more research is done about its safety, no one could stop that crop from being planted, even temporarily’ because Federal Law supersedes state law and most definitely, local Ordinance,” wrote Shatkin.

Oregon’s Monsanto Protection Act is a direct attempt to silence farmers critical of genetically engineered crops who are looking for a reasonable democratic solution to protect their organic and non-GMO seed supply from genetic contamination.

In an effort to protect local agriculture and farmer’s economic livelihoods, on January 2nd of this year, GMO-Free Jackson County, led by a local farmer, submitted nearly 6,500 signatures to get a ban on genetically engineered crops on the ballot. The initiative will appear on the ballot May 2014, if not sooner and Monsanto, Syngenta and other biotech seed companies are working behind the scenes to make sure that SB 633 strips Oregon residents of their right to make local agricultural decisions at the county level.

According to Oregon farmers, SB 633 is a thinly veiled attempt to silence the growing concern over genetically engineered foods and gut all county efforts to address the real problems that growing GMO crops can have on seed purity and the economic livelihoods of family farmers.

Last week Senator Roblan was joined by Herman Baerschiger (R-Grants Pass) and Betsy Close (R-Albany) in voting in favor of SB 633. The bill must now be assigned to a committee in the House and then be voted on by both chambers of the Oregon legislature. 


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This vote comes barely two weeks after Congress passed the Monsanto Protection Act and President Obama signed it into law, over the objections of more than 300,000 Food Democracy Now! members who signed a letter to Obama and Congress to the stop the provision from becoming law. Now in Oregon, state senators are hiding behind the precedent of the Monsanto Protection Act undermining efforts in Jackson County to pass a countywide ban on GMO crops, a ballot initiative that qualified for the May 2014 ballot.


The intent of SB 633, a seed preemption bill, is to strip the right of local control from Jackson County and other critics of GMOs because they have sought to impose a ban on growing genetically engineered crops within the confines of their county to protect local family farmers and economic interests through a ballot initiative.


According to Oregon farmers, SB 633 is a thinly veiled attempt to silence the growing concern over genetically engineered foods and gut all county efforts to address the real problems that growing GMO crops can have on seed purity and the economic livelihoods of family farmers.


For more information, or for interviews please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at



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