Residents of southern Oregon's agriculture-heavy Rogue Valley have voted to ban genetically modified crops, setting up the next stage of a fight that has gained widespread attention.

The valley's Jackson and Josephine counties are among at least a dozen places in the U.S. to enact GMO bans. But the region is rare in that genetically modified crops were growing there before the prohibitions against such plants took effect.

Those growing GMO crops in the two counties have a year to harvest or destroy them. Growers who ignore the bans face financial penalties. Observers and officials expect both bans to end up in court.

Companies that genetically engineer seeds — including biotech giants Sygenta, Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer — spent about $900,000 opposing the ballot measures. Ban supporters spent about $400,000.

(Staff and wire reports. Submit items to