The Effect of GMOs on Organic Certification

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose genes are altered using scientific means. In farming, GMOs such as seeds may be created in order to withstand drought or other extreme weather conditions, or created to withstand insects that would otherwise not let the crops produce. While the goal of GMOs may sound altruistic, there are concerns about the effects of the resulting crops on human health and development. As a result, GMOs are banned or severely restricted in many countries around the world. In the United States, GMOs are not restricted and food produced from GMOs does not have to be labeled as such.

There are other problems associated with GMOs, one of the major ones being cross-pollination and the effects it can have on organic farmers. In order for a farmer’s produce to be labelled organic, he or she has to meet certain standards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These include certifying that the farmer’s produce does not contain any GMOs. Gaining USDA organic certification can be very beneficial for an organic farmer wishing to market his or her produce as organic and tap into the growing consumer need for organic food.

An organic farmer can therefore lose a lot of potential income if his organic farm is cross-pollinated by GMOs from a neighboring farm. The problem for the farmer is that it becomes his or her responsibility to ensure that his crops are not contaminated. Additionally, because most GMOs are protected intellectual property under patent law, the farmer may also be sued for storing any seeds for a future crop if they have cross pollinated with GMOs. Seed contamination can happen in other ways than just cross pollination. A farmer wishing to grow non-GMO produce should be careful each step of the way. For example, in using trucks and trailers used to transport possible GMO seeds, a farmer transporting non-GMO seeds may risk contamination.

Taking Protective Measures

There are some steps that an organic farmer can take to avoid having produce rejected for certification. The farmer could ensure that he or she only gets seeds from a source that specializes in non-GMO seed. Additionally, the farmer could have a sampling of any seed he or she may want to save for future crops tested for GMO contamination. When using trucks and trailers that have been used to transport possible GMO seeds, a farmer should ensure that they are properly cleaned before transporting non-GMO seeds.

A list of sellers and distributors that have committed to selling non-GMO seeds by signing the Safe Seed Pledge can be found here. The Safe Seed Pledge is a commitment to not knowingly sell, buy, or trade GMOs.

Contact a California Business Attorney

If you own a business in the food industry and are looking for a dedicated and experienced law firm to offer you legal advice with pragmatic business solutions, contact The De Cárdenas Law Group, APLC. With offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the attorneys at The De Cárdenas Law Group, APLC can provide a wide range of solutions for your business needs.