OFRF-Funded Book Helps Organic Farmers Avoid Contamination from Genetically Engineered Crops


Press Release

Brise Tencer, Executive Director

(831) 426-6606


For Immediate Release: Monday, Feb. 3, 2014

(Santa Cruz, CA) Today marks the publishing of the book, Protecting Organic Seed Integrity, the first of its kind to define best practices for farmers who want to avoid contamination of their seeds from genetically engineered (GE) crops. These are sometimes referred to as GMOs.

The book, funded in part by a $10,966 grant from OFRF, is published by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) and was distributed to 450 farmers
at this week’s 7th Annual Organic Seed Growers Conference in Corvallis, Oregon, one of the nation’s largest organic seed conferences. Beginning today, OSGATA is providing copies of the book to organic farmers without cost.
“OFRF is pleased to fund this important new resource for organic farmers,” commented Maureen Wilmot, Executive Director of OFRF. “This handbook represents a comprehensive tool for organic farmers, seed handlers, and seed companies to determine strategies to maintain genetic purity in organic seed, as well as organic food crops. We hope farmers will make use of this information and tailor it to their needs.”
The book offers pertinent guidance on seed contamination avoidance and testing protocols for the crops that are at risk due to USDA-approved GE counterparts that are currently in commercial production: corn, soy, cotton, alfalfa, papaya, canola (Brassica rapa), sugarbeet, and squash (Cucurbita pepo).
The peer-reviewed work has 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.
Compromised organic seed integrity has broad-reaching impacts on the viability of organic farms and the credibility of organic products in the eyes of the consumers. Organic farmers also risk the threat of patent infringement litigation in the face of contamination. See OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto. In order to limit GE presence in organic seed, growers need to become educated about best practices for contamination avoidance and genetic testing protocols.
Protecting Organic Seed Integrity was made possible with funding from Organic Farming Research Foundation, Food Democracy Now!, Dr. Bronner’s, and the  Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association.
The handbook is available on OFRF’s website and is also available on the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association website.
OFRF provides funding for research on organic farming and food systems, and encourages farmers, ranchers, researchers, and Extension personnel to apply. For more information about OFRF’s research grants program, visit www.ofrf.org/research/