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The organic farmers have not reported how much they have raised, but Hardy said it is nowhere near that much.

The Swiss multinational corporation Syngenta leases a couple dozen plots of less than an acre scattered around the county where it grows GMO seed, spokesman Paul Minehart said.

One of them was the target of what the FBI called “economic sabotage” last summer, when someone uprooted a field of Syngenta beets. FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said there have been no arrests.

In the Willamette Valley, farmers have developed a system to avoid cross-pollination between GMO seedcrops and organic seed crops by keeping the different plots far enough apart.

But negotiations to do the same thing in the Rogue Valley broke down, said Hardy.

Hardy said he and other organic farmers have already had to plow under seed crops rather than go to the expense of genetic testing, which is being demanded by organic seed buyers.

Without a system to assure seeds won’t be contaminated, organic farmers cannot in good conscience use their own seed for successive crops, said Elise Higley, an Applegate Valley organic farmer and director of Our Family Farms Coalition, which is campaigning for the initiative.

With the backing of the Oregon Farm Bureau and Oregonians for Food and Shelter, the Legislature enacted a law last year prohibiting counties from regulating GMO crops, but Jackson County was left out because the initiative had already qualified for the ballot. Meanwhile, the governor is to appoint a commission to look at the issue.

“It’s very important, because this is the only county in the state where local farmers could be disadvantaged by not having access to certain types of crops,” said Scott Dahlman, executive director of Oregonians for Food and Shelter.

Counties don’t have the resources to regulate something like GMO crops, and farm fields often cross county lines, he added.

Dahlman said they are helping farmers and others opposed to the ban to organize a group called Good Neighbor Farmers.