The organic seed industry is at the same time especially vulnerable to transgenic contamination and also a crucial link to reducing contamination. Organic seed, which by definition is free of genetically engineered (GE) contaminates, is the foundation of organic agriculture. Organic crops grown with contaminated seed will inevitably yield a contaminated crop. GE contamination, however trace, is unacceptable.
Compromised organic seed integrity has broad-reaching impacts on the viability of organic farms and the credibility of organic products. Organic farmers also risk the threat of patent litigation in the face of contamination. In order to limit GE presence in organic seed, growers need to become educated about best practices for contamination avoidance.
Ensuring the Integrity of Organic.
The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association has produced a manual, entitled Protecting Organic Seed Integrity: The Organic Farmer’s Handbook to GE Avoidance and Testing, to serve as a one-stop tool to help farmers, as well as seed handlers and seed companies, maintain genetic purity in organic seed, as well as organic food crops.
It offers pertinent guidance on seed contamination avoidance and testing protocols for the following at-risk crops (those with USDA-approved GE counterparts which are currently in commercial production): corn, soy, cotton, alfalfa, papaya, canola (Brassica rapa), sugarbeet, and squash (Cucurbita pepo).
The recommendations have been synthesized through an assessment of international literature, as well as solicited input from organic farmers, seed company professionals, and seed breeders familiar with isolation and purity concerns, along with implementation constraints in the field.
Resources for Organic Farmers.
The following resources are available as free electronic downloads. Please consider making a donation to OSGATA to ensure that we can continue offering resources to the organic seed community free of charge.
If you would like a hard copy of the handbook, please send $5 to cover shipping and handling costs: OSGATA/ PO Box 362 / Washington, ME 04574. Alternatively, use our Donate page to securely transfer the $5 S+H. Please include your address and “S+H” in the comments section!Support for the research, production, and publication of this handbook was provided by: