Report on Coexistence of GMO’s and Organic Sharply Criticized
In mid-November, the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) released its recommendations regarding transgenic contamination of organic and non-genetically engineered crops. The Committee was charged by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack with developing practical recommendations strengthening coexistence among different agricultural production methods.
The National Organic Coalition, a national alliance of organizations representing organic farmers, environmentalists and organic industry, sharply condemned the recommendations. Of particular concern in the report is the recommendation that organic and non-GE conventional farmers pay for crop insurance or self-insure themselves against unwanted GE contamination.
NOC strongly asserts that this proposal allows USDA and the agricultural biotechnology industry to abdicate responsibility for preventing GE contamination while making the victim of GE pollution pay for damages resulting from transgenic contamination. “The AC21 report takes responsibility for GE contamination prevention out of the hands of USDA and the biotech industry where it belongs and puts it squarely on the backs of organic and non-GE farmers,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety and a NOC member. “This ill-conceived solution of penalizing the victim is fundamentally unjust and fails to address the root cause of the problem – transgenic contamination.”
The underlying assumption of USDA’s work plan for the committee was that as long as farmers are adequately compensated, GE contamination is a permissible and acceptable cost of doing business for organic and non-GE farmers. NOC has rejected this assumption, as did several members of the AC21. According to NOC, the committee’s final report failed to make a single recommendation holding the patent holders of genetic engineering technologies responsible and liable for damages caused by its use.
The report can be viewed at: http://www.usda.gov/documents/ac21_report-enhancing-coexistence.pdf