Protect Your Seed from GE Contamination

Since the genetically engineered Flavr Savr tomato was first approved for the American marketplace in 2004, GE crops have grown to become part of the agricultural mainstream. Plantings of GE crops in the U.S., measured in acres, increased by 68% between 2000 and 2005 and climbed another 45% between 2005 and 2013.

In 2013, American farmers planted 170 million acres−or the equivalent land area the size of Texas−in GE corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, sugarbeets, alfalfa, papaya and squash, with the first three crops accounting for the bulk of the acreage. According to a 2014 report from USDA, “Genetically Engineered Crops in the United States,”  GE crops accounted for 90% of all planted cotton acreage, 93% of soybean acreage, and 90% of corn.

With such widespread adoption of GE crops within the U.S., GE contamination poses a significant risk to growers of organic and non-GE seeds.  Genetic contamination of organic seed can happen in any number of ways, from cross-pollination of crops in the field to commingling of seed at planting and harvest.

Confidence in your seed source’s integrity and knowing whether seed has been tested for GE presence is the absolute first step to avoidance. Unfortunately, planting genetically pure seed does not equate to a clean crop at harvest time. Every growing season offers an opportunity for GE contamination to occur.

Are you planting corn this season? Summer squash or Swiss chard?

Learn more about pollen flow and other sources of GE contamination for the crops that are currently at-risk (those with commercially approved GE counterparts) by downloading OSGATA’s free resource− Protecting Organic Seed Integrity: The Organic Farmer’s Handbook to GE Avoidance and Testing.

Learn more about GE avoidance strategies to protect your seed this growing season here.

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