The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Holli Cederholm
207. 809. 7530

Organic Seed Protected from GE Contamination by OSGATA's New Book

Protecting Organic Seed Integrity: The Organic Farmer's Handbook to GE Avoidance and Testing Published Today


Just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court failed American farmers who had sought protection and their right to self-defense from GE contamination in the landmark lawsuit OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto, OSGATA has printed 5,000 copies of an important handbook dedicated to protecting the organic seed supply.

The new resource, Protecting Organic Seed Integrity, is designed to help organic seed growers maintain the integrity of organic seed, free of genetically engineered (GE) contaminants and is now available from the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA).

Beginning today, OSGATA is providing copies of the new book to organic farmers without cost. This includes over 450 of the nation's top organic seed farmers who are currently in-attendance at the 7th Organic Seed Growers Conference in Corvallis, OR.

The organic seed industry is at once especially vulnerable to GE contamination and also a crucial link to reducing contamination. Organic seed, which by definition is free of GE contamination, is the foundation of organic agriculture. Organic crops grown with contaminated seed will inevitably yield a contaminated crop. GE contamination of organic seed, however minimal, is unacceptable to the organic seed market.

"The risk to organic farmers by GE contamination is real," said Maine organic seed farmer, Jim Gerritsen, OSGATA President. "Organic farmers continue to be failed by the government. This new handbook is an important tool for farmers to protect themselves and the organic seed supply."

Compromised organic seed integrity has broad-reaching impacts on the viability of organic farms and the credibility of organic products in the eyes of consumers. Organic farmers also risk the perverse threat of patent infringement litigation in the face of GE contamination. In order to limit GE presence in organic seed, growers need to become educated about best practices for contamination avoidance and genetic testing protocols.

It serves as a one-stop tool for organic farmers, seed handlers and seed companies to determine individual, scale-appropriate and crop-specific strategies to maintain genetic purity in organic seed, as well as organic food crops.

This new book offers pertinent guidance on seed contamination avoidance and testing protocols for the following at-risk crops (those with USDA-approved GE counterparts which 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.

Protecting Organic Seed Integrity was made possible with funding from Organic Farming Research Foundation, Food Democracy Now!, Dr. Bronner's, and Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association.

The book has also been published online as an e-book and is available to all for free as a resource in the commons. Click here for the free electronic download.

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) develops, protects and promotes the organic seed trade and its growers, and assures that the organic community has access to excellent quality organic seed, free of contaminants and adapted to the diverse needs of local organic agriculture.