Group files petition to make GMOs illegal in Lane County

EUGENE, Ore. -- Issues surrounding genetically modified organisms (or GMOs) have been brewing in parts of Lane County for years, and a group is trying to put it to rest.

The "Support Local Food Rights" group filed a petition on Wednesday that would make using GMOs in farming illegal for Lane County.

Anne Kneeland of Support Local Food Rights said the large-scale agriculture that uses GMOs doesn't fit with the farmers of the southern Willamette Valley.

"We value the system we have, where we can buy our fresh fruits and fresh vegetables locally and know where they come from," Kneeland said.

Thistledown Farms, located just north of Eugene, said they don't use GMOs on their farmland. However field operations manager Jared Henderson said he knows of other farms that do, and making modified crops illegal could seriously hurt their business.

"This is an important production area and an important source of income for some of the farms around here, and it would be kind of a financial hit if they could not grow that seed," Henderson said.

Kneeland told our news staff she believes that having those farms change their practices is worth a GMO-free crop.

The Support Local Food Rights petition was submitted to the county clerk, and county officials now have a few days to rule on it.

If passed, members will need over 8,000 signatures to get it on a ballot, which they hope will make an appearance in May 2014.