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For Immediate Release Holly Givens, Organic Trade Association
Contamination of conventional seed with genetically engineered material prompts call to protect organic seed
GREENFIELD, Mass. (Feb. 25, 2004): Findings released by the Union for Concerned Scientists showing widespread contamination of conventional seed by genetically engineered (GE) materials give a clear indication that those wishing to avoid planting GE crops may, in fact, be inadvertently planting GE contaminated crops.
"The evidence is mounting, as this survey by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows, that GE contamination is happening," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association. She noted that organic producers take great care to offer customers a quality product with only the limited use of synthetic processing materials or ingredients. "Now, producers are faced with not only the problem of contamination in the field but, more fundamentally, even the inability to be sure they are choosing non-genetically engineered seed," DiMatteo said.
OTA supports the report's recommendation that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the organic agriculture community, land-grant universities, and plant breeders develop policies to protect and preserve existing organic seed stock.
"The longer we wait before such policies are developed, the more difficult it may be to ensure non-contaminated organic seed," DiMatteo said.
Since 2000, the Organic Trade Association has called for a moratorium on the use of genetically engineered organisms in all agricultural production because of the possibility of contamination and other detrimental effects on the organic industry. At that time, OTA warned that the use of GE technology in agriculture had the potential to cause unintended effects on the environment and on human health.
"These findings are disturbing because they reveal one of the dangers of genetic engineering, namely the contamination of traditional seed varieties," DiMatteo said, adding, "Consumers and farmers need to begin to purchase organic seed now while there's an opportunity to help build and support a segregated organic seed supply."
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is a membership-based business association whose mission is to encourage global sustainability through promoting and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade. OTA's approximately 1,250 members include growers, shippers, retailers, processors, certifiers, farmer associations, brokers, consultants and others. For further info, visit OTA's web site at www.ota.com.
February 25, 2004
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