Local Food System Ordinance of Lane County, Oregon

by: Posted on: August 08, 2013



Section 1. Purpose

We the people of Lane County believe that ecology, economy, and food are inseparable and that the health of one fosters and enhances the health of all.


We the people of Lane County know that the local food system of Lane County is essential to the well-being of residents, farmers, local food producers, consumers, and our local economy, and is dependent upon the health of the natural communities of Lane County.


We the people of Lane County assert that our local food system can function and thrive only where there are protected rights to local food and seed heritage, and rights for natural communities; all of which are anchored by the right of the community to self-government; and that our local food system can exist and endure only in the absence of seed patents, genetically engineered organisms, and corporate and government interference in the aforementioned rights.


We the people of Lane County assert that our right to local self-government is inherent, fundamental, and inalienable, and that our U.S. Declaration of Independence proclaims that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.


We the people of Lane County affirm that the Oregon Constitution guarantees “that all [people], when they form a social compact are equal in right: that all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; and they have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.”


We the people of Lane County understand that corporate constitutional rights, state preemption, and other civil laws and regulations that benefit corporations may be used to usurp the will of the people, thereby rendering the people of Lane County powerless to legislate matters of county concern, including the protection of our local food system and our natural communities.


Now, therefore, the people of Lane County hereby adopt this Ordinance, which shall be known and may be cited as the “Local Food System Ordinance of Lane County.”


Section 2. Statements of Law – Local Food Bill of Rights


(a)   Right to Local Food System: The people of Lane County possess the right to a local food system, which shall include, but not be limited to, the right to grow, sell, purchase, store, consume, use, share and distribute local food.


(b)   Right to Seed Heritage: All people of Lane County possess the right to save, grow, preserve, protect, collect, share, store, use, harvest, and distribute all seeds used within Lane County.  This right shall include, but not be limited to, the right to be free from patents of seed and from infection, infestation, contamination, or drift by any means from genetically engineered organisms.


(c)   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 in order to ensure the integrity of the local food system within Lane County.


(d)   Right to Self-Government: All residents of Lane 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 authority and consent, for the purpose of the creation and protection of the local food system.  Use of the Lane County municipal corporation by the people of Lane County to make law shall not be deemed, by any authority, to eliminate or reduce that self-governing authority.


(e)   Rights are Self-Executing: All rights delineated and secured by this ordinance shall be selfexecuting, shall be deemed to be fundamental and inalienable, shall be enforceable against both public and private actors, and shall not require implementing legislation for their enforceability.


Section 3.  Statement of Law – Prohibitions Necessary to Secure the Local Food Bill of Rights


(a) It shall be unlawful for any corporation or governmental entity to violate any right secured by this Ordinance .


(b) It shall be unlawful for any corporation or governmental entity to engage in, or seek to engage in, the use of genetically engineered organisms.


(c) It shall be unlawful for any trans-genetic risk seed to be planted in Lane County by any corporation or governmental entity unless such seed has been proven to be free of any traces of genetic modification, and such proof has been submitted to the Lane County Commissioners and released to the public without charge.


(d) No person or business within Lane County shall be liable to any corporation claiming patent rights to, or ownership of, any plant or seed and claiming loss of income or commercial infringement resulting from the inadvertent infection of agricultural crops by genetically engineered organisms or other traits claimed by a patent.


(e) No permit, license, privilege, charter, or other authority issued by any State or federal entity which would violate the prohibitions of this Ordinance, the Oregon Constitution, the United States Constitution, or other laws, shall be deemed valid within Lane County.


Section 4. Existing Crops Subject to Local Food Bill of Rights’ Prohibitions


(a) Existing, non-perennial and perennial genetically engineered organisms within Lane County must be harvested or destroyed within six (6) months after the effective date of this Ordinance.


Section 5. Enforcement


(a)  Lane County may enforce this Ordinance through an action brought in any court of competent jurisdiction. In such an action, Lane County shall be entitled to recover all costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney’s fees.


(b) Any resident or group of residents within Lane County shall have legal standing and the authority to enforce the provisions of this Ordinance in a court of competent jurisdiction. In such an action, the residents or group of residents shall be entitled to recover damages and all costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney’s fees.


(c) Any action brought to remedy the violation of the rights of natural communities shall list the natural community as a plaintiff in the action, damages sought must bear a direct relationship to the damage inflicted upon the natural community, and awarded damages must be payable to the municipality for the restricted use of repairing the natural community.


(d) The County Commissioners of Lane County, or any other agent or agency of the County, shall be prohibited from taking any action to annul, amend, or repeal this Ordinance, unless such action has been approved by majority vote of County residents. The advisory question that would appear on the ballot asking voters whether the Ordinance should be annulled, amended, or repealed must be nonprejudicial and unbiased.


Section 6. Enforcement – Corporate Powers


(a) Corporations which violate this Ordinance, or which seek to violate this Ordinance, shall not be deemed “persons,” nor possess any other legal rights, privileges, powers, or protections which would interfere with the enforcement of rights or prohibitions enumerated by this Ordinance.  Such powers shall include the ability  to assert federal or state preemptive law in an attempt to overturn this Ordinance, and the ability to assert  that the people of the County lack the authority to adopt this Ordinance.


(b) Corporate claims to “future lost profits” shall not be considered property interests under this Ordinance, and thus, shall not be recoverable by corporations seeking those damages.


(c) Corporations that own patents to genetically engineered organisms shall be strictly liable for the removal of any and all genetically engineered organisms found on any Lane County property where the genetically engineered organism was not intentionally put there by the property owner. Removal costs shall include, but not be limited to, clean-up, testing, lost income, and attorney fees.


(d) All laws adopted by the legislature of the State of Oregon, rules adopted by any State agency, laws adopted by the United States Congress, and rules adopted by any federal agency, shall be the law of Lane County only to the extent that they do not violate the rights or prohibitions of this Ordinance.


Section 7. Oregon Constitutional Changes


Through the adoption of this Ordinance, the people of Lane County call for state recognition of local food bills of rights. Accordingly, the people of Lane County call for changes to be made to the Oregon Constitution, which recognize and secure a community right to local self-government that cannot be preempted by the State if the community’s laws enforce standards and rights more protective of the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Lane County and the natural environment. The people of the County also call for state constitutional changes that elevate community rights above those claimed by corporations when community rights conflict with corporate privileges, and that recognize the rights of nature enforceable by the residents of a community.


Section 8. Definitions


(a) “Corporation”: Shall refer to any corporation, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, business trust, business entity, or limited liability company organized under the laws of any State of the United States or under the laws of any country.


(b) “Genetically Engineered Organism”: Any organism, organisms, or life forms, in which the genetic material has been changed, engineered, modified, or altered using techniques such as, but not limited to:


(i) In vitro nucleic acid techniques, including recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and/or ribonucleic acid (RNA) techniques that use vector systems and techniques involving the direct introduction into the organisms of hereditary materials prepared outside the organisms such as micro-injection, macro-injection, chemoporation, electroporation, microencapsulation, and liposome fusion and the direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles, or

(ii) Fusion of cells (including protoplast fusion) or hybridization techniques that overcome natural physiological, reproductive, or recombination barriers, where the donor cells/protoplasts do not fall within the same taxonomic family, in a way that does not occur by natural multiplication or natural recombination.


The phrase shall not include traditional selective breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, or tissue culture.


(c) “Engage in the use of”: Shall include, but not be limited to the use, provision, sale, or patenting of genetically engineered organisms, which are then used, planted, grown, cultivated, raised, reared, or harvested within Lane County.


(d) “Local Food”:  All things edible that are grown, raised, harvested, collected, or prepared within Lane County for consumption that are free from genetic modifications and that promote biodiversity, resilience, and nutrient density while providing for the social, economic, nutritional and cultural enhancements of the quality of life of Lane County.


(e) “Local Food System”:  A food system that recognizes the rights of the people to local food and seed heritage, that does not violate the rights of natural communities and that includes agriculture conducted pursuant to the provisions of U.S. Code Title 7, Section 3103.19.


(f) “Seed Heritage”: Seeds inherited from family or community, generation after generation, adapted to the local climate and held in the commons, by seed growers that specialize in open-pollinated and heritage seed.


(g) “Trans-genetic risk seed”:  Any seed, or crop produced from that seed, including, but not limited to, corn, soy, flax, canola, wheat, and beets, that has been genetically modified or patented and is widely grown, spread, and distributed, making all seeds of those crops and related crops subject to contamination with traces of the alteration.


Section 9. Severability


The provisions of this Ordinance are severable. If any court of competent jurisdiction decides that any section, clause, sentence, part or provision of this Ordinance is illegal, invalid or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect, impair or invalidate any of the remaining sections, clauses, sentences, parts or provisions of this Ordinance. The people of Lane County hereby declare that in the event of such a decision, and the determination that the court’s ruling is legitimate, it would have enacted this Ordinance even without the section, clause, sentence, part or provision that the court decides is illegal, invalid or unconstitutional.


Section 10.  Repealer

All inconsistent provisions within the county code of Lane County are hereby repealed, but only to the extent necessary to remedy the inconsistency.


Section 11.  Effect


This Ordinance shall take effect on the date of adoption.

One Response to “Local Food System Ordinance of Lane County, Oregon”

    by: Amrinder Singhon: Thursday 8th of August 2013

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