Thank you for posting your question concerning pollination restrictions and the effects on GMOs in the U.S.
Farmers can grow organic, GM and conventional crops in the same area, and in fact, many growers use all three of these types of farming practices on the same farm and do grow organic corn next to GM corn. In order to minimize pollen flow between these crops, growers utilize many management practices. For example, farmers may plant at recommended separation distances, time their plantings so neighboring fields are not pollinating at the same time, use crop rotations and communicate with their neighbors regarding planting decisions.
The number of planted acres of GMO crops in the U.S. continues to rise; according to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), about 169 million acres of GM crops were planted in 2013, or about half of the total land used to grow crops in the U.S. This accounts for over 90 percent of all cotton, corn and soybean acreage in the U.S. in 2013. These GM crops have helped farmers increase yields and lessen environmental impacts and allowed them to use crop protection products more efficiently. According to another USDA ERS report, between 2005 and 2011, certified organic cropland expanded nearly 80 percent. The growth in both organic and GM sectors makes clear that farmers are coexisting successfully, no matter what their cropping practice.
Coexistence practices, particularly communication with neighbors and within agricultural communities and regions, are particularly critical in areas where seed production for organic, conventional and GM crops occurs. These practices have been used for decades in regions where identity-preserved seed crops that openly cross-pollinate are produced, like red beets and chard. These areas may use so-called “pinning parties” to map and communicate areas where seed production for specific identity-preserved crops will occur, and to ensure that cross-pollination is minimized between crops by separation distances, staggered planting dates or other practices.
If you would like more information about this and about what farmers are already doing — and can continue to do — to coexist, please visit the USDA’s Advisory Committee on 21st Century Agriculture’s report on coexistence. The American Seed Trade Association has also issued a report on coexistence in the seed industry.
For more information on pollination, you may be interested in another question regarding cross-pollination that was asked on this site. Please see Will cross-pollination effect other non-GMO crops? And if there are two fields next to each other, one GMO and one non-GMO; what is the likelihood of them cross-pollinating?