Ordinance Prohibiting Growing Genetically Modified Organisms
in San Juan County
Sections: Declaration, Definitions, Exemption, Activities, Unlawful Activities, Violation – Abatement, Penalties, Severability, and Intent
The people of San Juan County, desiring to protect our agricultural industry, our natural environment, the private property rights of our citizens, and the health, safety and welfare of our People, deem it advisable and appropriate to restrict the cultivation of genetically modified crops, livestock and other organisms in San Juan County.
For the purpose of this chapter the following definitions apply:
“Organisms” are defined as any biological entity capable of replication or transferring genetic material.
“Genetically Modified” is defined as an organism, with the exception of human beings, in which genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.
It is unlawful for any person or entity to propagate, cultivate, raise or grow genetically modified organisms in San Juan County.
Exempt from the Chapter are research and educational facilities working with genetically modified organisms provided that such activities are conducted under secure, enclosed indoor laboratory conditions with the utmost precautions to prevent release of genetically modified organisms in to the outside environment. Also exempt from the prohibitions of this Chapter are licensed health practitioners that provide any diagnosis, care, or treatment to any human patient.
Violation – Abatement
All violations of this Chapter are declared to be public nuisances. (a) The prosecuting attorney or his or her designee (including, but not limited to the county sheriff) is hereby designated to enforce this Chapter and may exercise such powers as may be necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this Chapter.
(b) The prosecuting attorney shall notify any person, corporation, association, partnership, limited liability company or other entity that may be in violation of this Chapter, that any organisms that violate this Chapter constitute a public nuisance, subject to confiscation, destruction or quarantine and subject to applicable enforcement actions including nuisance abatement orders and penalties.
(c) Any person, corporation, association, partnership, limited liability company or other entity that receives notification under subparagraph (b) shall have fifteen (15) days to respond to such notification with evidence that such organisms are not in violation of this Chapter, or have been destroyed, or have been entirely removed from San Juan County.
(d) Upon receipt of any evidence under subparagraph (c), the prosecuting attorney shall consider such evidence and any other evidence that is presented by the recipient of notification under subparagraph (b) or which is relevant to a determination of such violation. Within fifteen (15) days of receipt of such evidence, the prosecuting attorney shall determine if the organisms are in violation of this Chapter, or have been destroyed or removed from San Juan County.
(e) Upon making a determination that a violation of this Chapter exists, or if no evidence has been submitted pursuant to subparagraph(c), upon reasonable notice, the prosecuting attorney shall thereafter promptly take all actions necessary to ensure that such organisms do not cause genetic contamination or other harm, including but not limited to the following: confiscation, destruction or quarantine. Such action shall be undertaken during daylight hours.
(f) Any person or persons knowingly and willfully responsible for a violation of this Chapter may be held responsible for all administrative and abatement costs incurred by San Juan County. Costs of enforcement shall not be imposed upon any person whose violation is not knowing and willful, nor shall costs be imposed for enforcement actions relating to crops planted or animals possessed in San Juan County prior to the effective date of this Chapter. (g) The provisions of this Chapter are cumulative, and nothing in this Chapter affects any other remedies that any individual or government entity may have against any person resulting from a violation of this Chapter.
A. Punishment for Violations.
1. The first violation of any provision of this chapter shall be a Class 1 civil infraction carrying a monetary penalty of $250.00 plus statutory assessments.
2. The second violation of any provision of this chapter shall constitute a criminal misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1000.00, 90 days in jail, or both.
2. A third or subsequent violation of any provision of this chapter shall constitute a gross misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, 365 days in jail, or both.
B. Right to Hearing. The recipient of an infraction notice under this chapter is entitled to a hearing in district court to contest the infraction notice and civil penalty in accordance with Chapter 7.80 RCW.
Should any section, subsection, or part of this Chapter be declared unconstitutional or invalid for any reason, such shall not effect the validity if remaining portions.
The primary intent of all enforcement actions described in this Chapter is to educate the public and to encourage the voluntary correction of violations. Civil and criminal penalties will be used only when necessary to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Chapter. Criminal charges will be brought only when civil remedies have failed to ensure compliance.