QIf I am an organic farmer, and GMO technology contaminates my crops, do I have any recourse? How do I regain my organic certification? What do I do with my contaminated crops? Who is held responsible, and what damages can I claim?

If I am an organic farmer, and GMO technology contaminates my crops, do I have any recourse? How do I regain my organic certification? What do I do with my contaminated crops? Who is held responsible, and what damages can I claim?

AExpert Answer

I am an organic farmer and have been since 1993. I am also a conventional farmer and have been growing biotech crops since 1998. No organic farmer has ever lost his certification due to inadvertent GMO presence in his crop. The federal National Organic Program (NOP) has stated that as long as the organic grower did not intentionally use “excluded methods”―e.g., GM seed is an excluded method in organic production―a grower will not lose his organic certification. So, unless an organic grower intentionally plants a crop with GM traits, the certification of his organic land and crops will not be affected.

 

If GM traits are found in the organic farmer’s crop, it is usually up to the buyer of the crop to accept or reject his product based on their contract specifications, which do allow for a certain percentage of GM traits to be present. Organic certification does not equal zero presence of a GM trait; low-level presence of a GM trait in organic production is allowed as long as the grower has followed the organic process necessary for organic production.

 

There are many ways in which a GM trait can appear in an organic crop, other than pollen drift from a nearby neighbor. The planting seed may have been mixed with biotech-trait seed; the planter, harvesting equipment, trucks or storage facility may not have been cleaned properly. Pollen from a neighbor is only one of many things that can affect an organic grower. Organic crops with GMO presence can and are sold as organic; the USDA organic certification does not have a zero policy.

 

There are different buyers with different contract specifications available to a grower. If, for some reason, the organic crop cannot be sold as organic, it can be sold into the conventional market.

 

As an organic grower, I communicate with my neighbors and use different planting dates or separation to avoid pollination from any surrounding crops, whether from my own biotech crops or those of my neighbors. We choose to grow different crops with different cropping systems—organic, conventional and biotech―all on the same farm and without issues of pollen flow from one to the other.

Posted on April 18, 2018
GMO Answers provides the facts that answer questions related to biotechnology, GM crops and agriculture. We work to ensure that the content and answers provided by experts and companies are accurate and therefore do not present opinions about GMOs, simply facts. GMO Answers is a community focused on constructive discussion about GMOs in order to have open conversations about agriculture and GMOs. This website is funded by the Council for Biotechnology Information. The Council... Read More
Posted on April 20, 2018
When glyphosate is applied to plants (e.g., crops or weeds) a certain percentage is absorbed and transported throughout the plant. The amount absorbed is variable depending on the application rate and the type of plant. Very little of the absorbed glyphosate is degraded by the plant and cannot be removed. Its persistence in plants is also variable. Federal regulatory agencies have established allowable limits for glyphosate residues in many different crops to protect human and animal health.... Read More
Answer:
Posted on April 25, 2018
First, the question is wrongly framed; it’s not true that there’s less “usage” of GMOs in developing countries. In a 2016 report, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) reported that “of the top five countries growing 91 percent of biotech crops, three are developing countries (Brazil, Argentina, and India).” The other two were the U.S. and Canada. Although the U.S. led biotech crop planting in 2016... Read More
Answer: