Paul Cienfuegos’ March 24th, 2015 Commentary on KBOO Evening News
(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at PaulCienfuegos.com, CommunityRightsPDX.org/podcast, or subscribe via ITunes.)
Greetings! You are listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.
On May 19, the people of Corvallis and Philomath and the rural areas of Benton County, Oregon, will be going to the polls to vote on a groundbreaking new Community Rights ordinance that could have far-reaching implications for the future of food safety in the state of Oregon and across the United States. Organized by the Benton Food Freedom campaign, it’s called a “Local Food System Ordinance”, and if passed by the voters, it would become illegal for any corporation or government to plant genetically modified seeds within Benton County. It would also become illegal for any corporation or government to require registration or patenting of open pollinated or traditionally bred seed within Benton County. And finally, if a non-GMO farmer discovered that his or her crops had been contaminated by a genetically engineered plant from another field, the farmer could no longer be sued by the GMO corporation claiming that their product was being used without the corporation’s permission. Believe it or not, this is exactly what monsanto* corporation’s lawyers have been successfully claiming in the courts for years. You can’t make this stuff up!
Ballots are being mailed to all Benton County voters on April 30 – just five weeks from now – so the campaign is asking supporters from across Oregon to come to Benton County to help them to reach tens of thousands of voters over these next few weeks, before they mail back their ballots. So I’m now turning to YOU, my listeners, asking YOU to head down to Corvallis sometime in the next few weeks and give the Benton Food Freedom campaign a day or two of your time. They can house you overnight. They’ll give you a brief training and send you out the door to talk to potential voters – at their doorsteps or in front of local businesses. Can you help them to win this very important vote for the future of safe food in Oregon and beyond? If so, please contact them at BentonFoodFreedom.org, or call the campaign coordinator at 484-546-1341. I’ll repeat this contact info at the end of my commentary.
If the voters pass this ballot initiative on May 19, all existing non-perennial genetically engineered organisms within Benton County would have to be harvested, removed, or destroyed within 90 days. Imagine that!
Here’s an excerpt from this groundbreaking new ordinance.
Section 2. Statements of Law – Food Bill of Rights
Right to a Local Food System: All residents of Benton County possess the right to a local food system. This right shall include, but is not limited to, the right to access, use, consume, produce, harvest, collect, process, and distribute foods generated from sustainable agricultural systems within Benton County.
Right to Seed Heritage: All residents of Benton County possess the right to grow, adapt, save, preserve, protect, collect, harvest, and distribute all seeds grown within Benton County. This right shall include, but is not limited to, the right to be free from infection, infestation, or drift by any means from genetically engineered organisms, trans-genetic risk seed, or other seeds that have been developed using methods other than traditional plant breeding.
Rights of Natural Communities: Natural communities, such as soils and other terrestrial systems, and aquatic systems such as aquifers, streams, rivers, and wetlands, shall possess the right to exist, persist, maintain themselves and regenerate their own vital cycles, structures, functions and evolutionary processes to the extent necessary to further the creation and protection of Benton County’s local food system. That right shall include the right to be free from genetically engineered organisms and the right to be free from the patenting, licensing, or ownership of their genes within Benton County.
Right to Self-Government: All residents of Benton County possess the right to a form of governance where they live which recognizes that all power is inherent in the people and that all free governments are founded on the people’s consent, to the extent necessary to further the creation and protection of Benton County’s local food system. Use of the “Benton County” municipal corporation by the people of Benton County shall not be deemed, by any authority, to eliminate or reduce that self-governing authority.
Previous GMO agriculture bans have been passed in both Jackson and Josephine county, Oregon, but neither of them was a rights-based ban, so it will be very interesting to watch the corporate boys come to terms with the reality that they’re going to have to use a totally different legal strategy to challenge the Benton County ordinance in the courts. But first things first. For the next five weeks, the campaign needs YOUR help to educate the voters – by coming down to the county and volunteering for a day, or by sending them a generous donation. If you can help, please go to BentonFoodFreedom.org, or call the campaign coordinator at 484-546-1341. Again, that’s BentonFoodFreedom.org, or call them at 484-546-1341.
You’ve been listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News in Portland, Oregon, and now also in Viroqua, Wisconsin on WDRT, every Tuesday at 7pm. I welcome your feedback.
You can subscribe to my weekly podcast via I-Tunes or at CommunityRightsPDX.org. You can follow me on twitter at CienfuegosPaul. You can sign up for my newsletter at PaulCienfuegos.com. THANKS FOR LISTENING! And remember: WE are the people we’ve been WAITING for!
(* I don’t capitalize “chair” or “toaster”, so why should I capitalize monsanto corporation? Corporations don’t even exist in the material world – they’re merely business structures, legal fictions, so I don’t give them the recognition of capitalization.)