Organic farmers condemn U.S. report, claim it favors GMO
The committee recommended that the USDA evaluate data to better understand actual economic losses by farmers tied to GE contamination. If a compensation program is needed, the committee said it should be modeled on existing crop insurance. Co-existence agreements between neighboring farmers should be developed, the committee said.
"This issue will only increase as new biotech products come to market so it is essential that the federal government step up now and establish strong policies that ensure coexistence measures are carried out by farmers, seed companies, and others who move food from the farm to the consumer's table," said Greg Jaffe, a committee member and director of the Biotechnology Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based non-profit.
Jaffe said he supported the report's recommendations.
The committee was comprised of 23 individuals from 16 states and the District of Columbia, representing academia, the American Farm Bureau, corn, wheat and soybean industry organizations, the organic industry, grain companies and others.
The committee also recommended that USDA should set up and fund a comprehensive education and outreach initiative to "strengthen understanding of coexistence between diverse agricultural production systems."
And the committee said the USDA should fund and research improved techniques for mitigating contamination and gather data from seed companies on contamination. It also recommended that USDA evaluate on an ongoing basis the pool of commercially available non-GMO seed and ensure that the seed supply remains diverse.
In criticizing the report, the organic growers said the committee "failed to make a single recommendation holding the patent holders of genetic engineering technologies responsible and liable for damages" caused by biotech seed use.
"We urgently need meaningful regulatory change that institutionalizes mandatory GE contamination prevention practices," the National Organic Coalition said. "USDA needs to stop dragging its heels, get serious and focus on making this happen."