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GMOs

The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs, and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.

OTA has long been actively engaged in protecting organic agriculture and trade from the proliferation of GMO foods and preserving farmer and consumer choice. In 2014, OTA’s Board of Directors voted to adopt an updated and comprehensive policy position on GMOs. Consistent with this position, OTA is working on several fronts to protect organic agriculture from the threat of GMOs. Below is a brief description of our current and on-going projects.

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ORGANIC MEANS NON-GMO & SO MUCH MORE!
OTA is helping consumers understand that
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mandatory federal labeling
of all products made using GMOs
OTA supports
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GMO labeling
legislative issues
OTA is proactive on all
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biotechnology and coexistence
OTA advises USDA on issues related to
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gmo contamination prevention strategies
OTA advocated for federal guidance on
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pure seed supply
to the organic sector
OTA is involved in efforts to secure a

 

Alert

6.23.16: Senators Roberts and Stabenow have introduced a federal labeling bill that would for the first time require mandatory GMO labeling nationwide. This legislation includes provisions that are excellent for organic farmers and food makers  – and for the millions of consumers who choose organic every day –  because they recognize, unequivocally, that USDA Certified Organic products qualify for non-GMO claims in the market place. READ MORE >>

GMO Labeling


OTA Policy Position

OTA supports mandatory federal labeling of all products that are made using GMOs. OTA supports the consumer’s right to know, and to choose foods, fiber and personal care products based on environmental, personal health, religious, dietary or other preferences. Labeling of GMO seed, products grown from GMO seed or stock, and products made with ingredients and byproducts of GMO crops is necessary for farmer, supply chain and consumer choice and confidence.
 

OTA Action

For years, the Organic Trade Association has supported efforts to bring federal mandatory GMO labeling to the United States. On June 23, 2016, Senators Roberts and Stabenow introduced a federal labeling bill that not only requires disclosure of GMO ingredients, but also includes important provisions that are excellent for organic farmers and food makers – and for the millions of consumers who choose organic every day -- because they recognize, unequivocally, that USDA Certified Organic products qualify for non-GMO claims in the market place. Those provisions safeguard USDA certified organic as the gold standard for transparency and non-GMO status.  Without the citizen-led efforts in Vermont and other states, this compromise bill would never have come to fruition. MORE>>  

View OTA’s comments and related resources    


Organic = Non-GMO and So Much More!
 

OTA Policy Position

OTA shall bolster organic as the gold standard by advocating for continuous improvement of the organic practice standard.
 

OTA Action

OTA is working to reinforce consumer understanding that to be organic means – among other things – to be non-GMO. In January of 2014, OTA convened a task force to ensure that organic certification and corresponding National Organic Program certified labels remain the gold standard and to further communicate to consumers that organic = non-GMO, as well as the many other benefits of organic. The task force developed several communication resources designed to help suppliers, retailers and consumers further understand the organic label and the GMO contamination prevention practices required under USDA's National Organic Program. OTA also developed and adopted a position on the labeling of organic products as non-GMO.

View OTA’s comments and related resources        


Protecting Organic Agriculture from GMO Contamination 


OTA Policy Position

OTA shall also adopt policies that address the problems the industry shall face as a result of continued GMO deregulation. OTA shall also advocate for policies that assign the cost of contamination prevention and market loss to the developers of GMO technology. OTA shall also educate the public and policy makers regarding the environmental and health concerns emerging with GMO’s.


OTA Action

  • OTA Executive Director Laura Batcha sits on the USDA’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture – a committee that advises the Secretary of Agriculture on issues related to the application of biotechnology in agriculture, and coexistence among different agricultural production methods. This committee, known as AC21, meets 3-4 times per year in public session to discuss these issues.  Please contact Laura if you have any questions, input, or concerns.
  • OTA successfully advocated for the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to pass a recommendation to USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) to develop guidance on GMO contamination prevention strategies. OTA also continues to advocate for additional training and guidance on GMO testing to be used as a tool to monitor effective GMO contamination prevention plans.

View OTA’s comments and related resources    


Seed Issues


OTA Policy Position

OTA recognizes the critical role of seed in the supply chain and shall advocate for policies that secure a seed supply to the organic sector that is free of GMOs.
 

OTA Action

In 2012, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) released a discussion document requesting comments on the feasibility of developing a seed purity standard in the organic regulations. The subcommittee suggested that seed may be the most impactful and efficient point in the supply chain at which GMO contamination of organic products could be limited and controlled. NOSB is continuing the conversation on seed purity and continuing to invite comments from the public.

Learn more about OTA’s position and comments to NOSB     


More Resources

OTA’s GMO White Paper (August 2011) OTA’s GMO Policy Position (May 2014)


Contact
CEO/Executive Director
(831) 515-7242
Senior Director of Regulatory
and Technical Affairs
(503) 798-3294
Marni Karlin
Vice President, Government Affairs 
(202) 403-8511

 

 

 
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