CCOF opposes the commercialization and use of genetically engineered (GE) crops because of the threat they pose to organic growers and consumers. Organic farmers shouldn’t have to carry the burden of trying to protect their crops from being cross-pollinated with genetically engineered varieties. Consumers have the right to know what they are eating. By purchasing organic foods you can be confident that you aren’t getting genetically engineered food.
Genetic engineering is a technology that takes DNA from one organism and moves it into another, creating new varieties of plants and animals that wouldn’t be found in nature. Genetic engineering is prohibited in organic food and farming because of concerns about their environmental and health repercussions. Although biotechnologists experiment with genetically modifying plants for taste or nutrition, the majority of genetically engineered crops are engineered to resist herbicides such as Roundup, resulting in increased use of chemical herbicides.
Prohibition of genetic engineering is central to the definition of organic. In 1997, the first draft of the National Organic Program (NOP) standards was released. To a shocked organic community, the “big three”: irradiation, genetically modified organisms, and sewage sludge were subtly incorporated into the rule. Nearly 280,000 people nationwide wrote letters, emails, and faxes to contest the inclusion of the “big three” in the organic standards, and their actions paid off. This issue generated more comments than any other issue in the history of the USDA.
However, implementation of this ban can be tricky. Pollen from plants can be hard, sometimes impossible, to contain as wind and animals carry it far and wide resulting in cross-pollination with other plants.
CCOF works to keep genetic engineering out of our fields and out of our food. We support consumers' right to know what is in their food through labeling of GE products. Specifically, we have signed on in support of The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act and the Just Label It: We Have a Right To Know campaign, both of which call for labeling of genetically engineered foods.
For more information see CCOF's GMO Policy Position.