High Mowing Seeds, Non-GMO Project collaborate on non-GMO standard for seeds

By Ken Roseboro
Published: February 1, 2013

Category: Non-GMO Project

Non-GMO Corn Seed

Tom Stearns, president, High Mowing Seeds

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High Mowing Organic Seeds is offering its expertise to the Non-GMO Project with the aim of creating a non-GMO standard and testing protocols to verify seed as non-GMO.

The Non-GMO Project standard does have non-GMO requirements for seed including a GMO threshold of 0.1%. But since the Project’s inception in 2007, there have been no seed companies enrolled in the project.

But that is likely to change, according to Megan Westgate, executive director of the Non-GMO Project, who says there is a huge market demand for Non-GMO Project verified seeds.

High Mowing is considered an ideal partner to provide expertise on a Non-GMO seed standard. Tom Stearns, president of High Mowing, serves on the Non-GMO Project’s seed advisory board.

“Tom brings a wealth of knowledge about seed and a deep commitment to helping protect and build a non-GMO seed supply,” Westgate says. “He understands the unique issues and the challenges that seed farmers face.”

High Mowing has also focused on genetic purity since its founding. In 1999, together with other seed industry leaders, High Mowing developed the Safe Seed Pledge, a stated commitment to not knowingly use or sell GM seeds because of their threat to genetic diversity. To date, more than 200 companies in the US and dozens overseas have signed the pledge. High Mowing was also a plaintiff in a lawsuit to stop the introduction of genetically engineered sugar beets.

High Mowing has established strict non-GMO protocols in its seed production. These include production of its own seed stock, requiring appropriate isolation distances for all seed production, requiring designated equipment for cleaning and harvesting of seed, as well as researching other GMO prevention and testing procedures.

“We’re primarily trying to help the Non-GMO Project answer questions about how a seed company can become non-GMO verified,” Stearns says. “We are offering expertise on isolation and seed production techniques that provide an understanding of how to verify a seed company and build a standard on.”

A statement in High Mowing’s catalog summarizes the partnership: “We value the work that the Non-GMO Project is doing and are excited to lend our seed expertise to the process of developing standards and testing protocols. This work will be valuable for farmers and gardeners who want to ensure the seed they are using is non-GMO as well as for seed companies who are committed to non-GMO seed.”


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