The Cornucopia Institute’s core membership consists of family farmers. We have more organic farmer members than any other research and policy organization in the country. Our membership is acutely aware of and concerned with the potential for contamination of their crops and feed with the drift of pollen and genes from genetically engineered (GE) organisms.
Federal organic regulations strictly prohibit the use of genetic engineering in the production of organic food. It is not allowed in livestock feed or in the production of food for humans. The dramatic growth and proliferation of GE crops is raising the risk of genetic trespass and contamination of organic crops in the organic farming community.
Monsanto has demonstrated a willingness to belligerently prosecute farmers they suspect of illegally growing their patented GE crops. As more GE crops are approved, including critical perennial crops like Monsanto’s GE alfalfa with a five-mile pollination radius, fears are growing in the organic community that innocent victims will be prosecuted and persecuted through no fault of their own.
Furthermore, a number of organic food manufacturers now test crop inputs from their suppliers for contamination from genetically engineered plants. Loads containing GE residues are being rejected, with the farmer then forced to find another market for the crops — and usually at a price well below what was expected from the initial buyer.
Family-scale farmers desperately need the judiciary branch of our government to balance the power Monsanto wields in the marketplace and through their legislative lobbyists. Farmers have saved seeds since the beginning of agriculture. It is outrageous that one corporate entity, through the trespass of what they refer to as their ‘technology,’ can intimidate and run roughshod over family farmers in this country.
Organic food and agriculture now total $30 billion in annual economic activity. Yearly growth in this sector has been typically occurring at a double digit rate for more than a decade. Much, if not all, of this is at risk should the organic farming community no longer be able to continue raising crops free of GE trespass and residue contamination.