OFRF Policy Statement on GMOs

Approved by the OFRF Board of Directors, December 15, 2010
Reviewed by the OFRF Board of Directors, November 2013

Preventing Contamination by Genetically Engineered Organisms
Statement of Principles

Genetically engineered (GE) organisms pose a significant and growing threat to organic family farmers, their livelihoods, and the markets and communities they serve.  The Board of Directors of the Organic Farming Research Foundation makes the following statement of principles on preventing the contamination of organic agricultural systems by GE organisms and crops.
Whereas:

  • The use of genetically engineered organisms is prohibited in organic agriculture;
  • There is widespread planting of GE crops in the U.S.;
  • Organically grown crops risk contamination from GE crops;
  • Organically grown crops rist damage from chemical drift used in conjunction with GE crops;
  • GE contamination can occur through biological or marketplace channels;
  • GE contamination results in product rejection and loss of markets for farmers, leading to the destruction of rural family businesses and farms;
  • The costs of preventing and testing for GE contamination are borne primarily by organic farmers and processors;
  • Consumers are demanding GE free products and the ability to distinguish between GE and non-GE products through labeling;
  • GE contamination of organic crops domestically will result in overseas sourcing for organic products;
  • GE contamination creates barriers for farmers who export to Europe and other countries who reject GE crops;
  • GE organisms threaten contamination of our seed stock, undermining our ability to ensure global food security; and
  • Organic agriculture provides multiple benefits to society and economic opportunity for family farmers.

The following principles must be applied when creating a policy framework to ensure the viability and continued growth of organic agriculture in the U.S. with respect to the persistence of GE crops and contamination risks:

  1. Freedom of Enterprise:  Farmers have the freedom to grow non-GE crops without the undue barriers, burdens, and risks caused by GE contamination.
  2. Innovation and Entrepreneurship:  Barriers to farmer innovation and entrepreneurship such as GE contamination should be removed so that farmers are free to access new and lucrative markets without additional costs.
  3. Fairness:  Organic farmers should not have to bear the costs for damages to their crops and products caused by the actions of other farmers and companies.
  4. Corporate Responsibility:  Patent-holders of technologies must be responsible for mitigation of damages to organic operations caused by the use of their GE products, as well as for the cost of preventing contamination.
  5. Scientific Soundness:  Policy decisions must be based on sound scientific assessments based on thorough, comprehensive, and independent research trials.
  6. Appropriate Technology:  The acceptance of new technologies must be based on an assessment of the net risks and benefits of those technologies to society as a whole.  
  7. Transparency:  Information about the production and movement of GE organisms through the supply chain must be made available clearly and readily through labeling so that farmers and consumers who choose to avoid GE organisms can do so with ease.
  8. Consumer Right to Know:  GMO labeling would provide consumers with the right to choose what they are eating, and to know how their food is grown.
  9. Biodiversity:  Society must support biologically diverse agricultural systems through the provision of equal opportunity and resources.