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Oregon Voters Approve Local Bans On GMO Crops

Voters in two southwestern Oregon counties voted to ban genetically modified crops on Tuesday.

"It's a great day for the people of Oregon who care about sustainability and healthy ecosystems," the advocacy group GMO Free Oregon said on its Facebook page.

A measure in Jackson County was approved by a 2-to-1 margin, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting, while 58 percent of Josephine County voters gave their support.

Opponents of the bans, backed by corporations such as Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont Pioneer, spent more than double the amount raised by supporters. But it wasn't enough.

"Regrettably, ideology won over science and common sense ," says Ian Tolleson, a government affairs associate with the Oregon Farm Bureau.

Consumer advocates have been pushing for more regulation and labeling of genetically modified crops for years. The agricultural and food industries have pushed back, contending that GMOs are safe.

Last fall, Oregon enacted a law to block local governments from regulating GMOs. It created an exception for Jackson County, where the ballot measure was already in the works. The Josephine County ban will be challenged in court.

Earlier this month, Vermont became the first state to require food producers to label products with genetically modified ingredients. Maine and Connecticut have approved similar requirements that would take effect if and when other states follow suit.

A big-money fight in California led to voters narrowly rejecting a labeling requirement in 2012.

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