I recent conversations with J. Fagin the following was brought to my
attention. There are at least 10 different tests that at that time had to be
done for 10 different techniques of genetically engineering corn. Testing
would possibly miss a GE product if one did not perform all the needed test.
The EU at the time had indicated that a 2% GE within a sample was acceptable.
John was working on a 1/2% GE within a sample. Lastly, I stand to be
corrected in all this, but to my understanding, natural genetic modifications
can give an indication of GE using some testing regimens.
In the above, we are speaking of only a single type of seed, corn in this
instance. What the testing regimen is for other seed and we might include
plant products that are not seed remains to be stated.
Actual human directed Genetically Engineered products: seeds, plants,
bacteria, enzymes, processing aids, food additives have been recommend by the
US National Organic Standards Board and the CODEX Committee on Food Labeling
as being inconsistent with organic farming and handling and therefore
prohibited in farming and handling "organically produced" products.
As with everything in organic farming and handling, residue testing of the
organic product is not the preferred method chosen for farmer and handler
"compliance" with organic standards. In fact, it is the integrity of the
certified farmer and handler in committing themselves publically to conform
to applicable organic standards that has built the immense
customer/farmer/handler trust within the organic consuming community. I
would suggest, we will never really police food products of any kind,
although specific instances of residue or GE testing is valuable to
understand the baseline "unavoidable environmental residual contamination"
and to identify and control purposeful deception of customers.
So, where really does organic stand if GE living products become spread
throught out the globe?
I suggest that organic farmers and handlers will carry on with integrity
following the public committment we have made to our customers.
Spurious and uncontrollable GE penetration of a certified organic farm will
have to be dealt with as "unavoidable environmental residual contamination"
just as pesticides within the environment are considered so now. Within the
certified organic handling operation however, there is absolutely no need to
introduce synthetic (possible GE) food additives or processing aids.
Furthermore, the US Organic Foods Production Act already prohibits any
synthetic substance from being a part of or an ingredient in an "organically
produced" products. So, if certified handling operations conform to OFPA,
the only possible introductin of GE would happen on the farm itself.
Regarding label identification of no GE, "organically produce" does now and
intends to in the future stand publically for No Genetically Engineered food
and fiber products. In a practical sense, we have a clear no GE label
identity operating in the market place right now. Let us seek to maintain
our faith and long term trust with organic customers of no GE farm and
processed food products.
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 11:08:03 -0500
From: "Wilson, Dale" <WILSONDO@phibred.com>
Subject: GMO testing
David and Steve,
David DeCou wrote:
> The definition for contamination of crops by GMO's within
> Organic circles will have to be absolutely none detectable.
Steve Sprinkel wrote:
> On tolerances for contamination: I don't believe that there
> are any.
The easy way to handle this problem is just make the test insensitive. Most
people understand so little about statistics and probability that they won't
care. The easiest way to do that is to limit the number of kernels tested.
> Dr. Fagin claims that the actual crop, in visible quantities
> ( he suggested one cup of corn) would be the amount required
> to determine GMO contamination.
That will be sufficiently insensitive that plenty of corn will pass, but
enough positives will occur to maintain a viable testing industry.
> Most of us in organic circles have come to realize that we should
> not describe our products as pesticide-free because of inherent
> background pesticide levels now existent practically everywhere...
Same thing for GMO corn pollen. The problem with really stringent standards
(ie. big samples) is that so many batches will fail the test that "GMO-free"
grain will become very expensive. That might be good if you want to grow
"organic" corn in the Gobi desert.
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