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Organic Food Farming: Opting out of GMO Farming is Harder than it Seems

Opting out of GMO farming is harder than it seems. Opting out of GMO farming is harder than it seems.


Consumers looking to avoid GMOs in their diet can choose to buy organic foods, which by regulation have to be GMO-free. But the insidious nature of GMO crops is making it harder for organic farmers to keep GMOs out — and making organic foods more expensive at the market.

David Cleveland, an environmental studies professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, teaches a course on biotechnology and has worked with a number of local farmers, as well as small-scale subsistence growers in Mexico. He is constantly hearing from farmers — both organic and traditional — who have been negatively effected by GMOs.

“Organic is defined as not having transgenes in it,” Cleveland explains. “It’s up to the farmers themselves and the people who buy their crops to do all this testing. They have to bear the cost of regulation.”

Those additional costs are passed along to consumers, increasing the price of organic foods. But even if you can afford the high cost of healthy eating, it’s getting harder for farmers to grow any crop free of GMO contamination.

Samantha Cabaluna, director of communication for Earthbound Farm, a large organic farm in Central California, explains in an email:

“Farmers, organic or conventional, that face GMO contamination of their identity-preserved crops because of proximity to GMO crops have a very difficult problem on their hands. The United States Department of Agriculture has started to think about ways to compensate those farmers who suffer losses as a result, but we’re not there yet. Currently, organic and conventional farmers who have concerns about GMO contamination bear the burden of testing for and detecting GMO traits in crops,” she continues. “If GMO contamination is detected, it can adversely impact the sale of their crops in some cases.”

Cabaluna adds, “We just don’t think there’s enough understood about the long-term environmental and human health implications of GMOs. And we certainly believe that, at a minimum, food produced with GMO ingredients should be labeled.”


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GMO farming threatens anyone who wants to eat or grow organic food.
Last modified on Wednesday, 05 September 2012 18:48

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