Survey: Organic farmers pay the price for GMO contamination

Published: April 2, 2014
Category: GMO Contamination

Organic farmers pay the price for GMO contamination

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Genetically modified crops are passing their transgenes to organic and non-GMO crops and causing farmers added costs and hardships. This was a key finding of a survey conducted by Food & Water Watch in partnership with the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM).

The survey of farmers across 17 states is an effort to fill the data gap that was used to justify an inadequate policy recommendation by the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture. The committee reported that it was unable to estimate the costs associated with GMO presence on non-GMO and organic farms due to a lack of data. Their final suggestion for a compensation mechanism was a form of crop insurance that organic and non-GMO farmers would purchase.

“If USDA really wanted to know if contamination was happening, all they had to do was ask organic grain producers who take great pains to keep their crops from being contaminated,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.

The survey results reveal that the risks and the effects of GMO contamination have unfairly burdened organic and non-GMO farmers with extra work, longer hours, and financial insecurity, which has led to a general skepticism of coexistence amongst the organic community. Meanwhile, GMO growers are not specifically required to mitigate the risk of contamination.

Many of the producers who responded use the marketing assistance services of the OFARM member co-ops. “To try to avoid contamination, our member producers follow the expensive requirements of the USDA organic standards and take additional measures designed by OFARM,” said Oren Holle, a diversified organic grain and livestock farmer from Bremen, Kansas, and the President of OFARM. “But far too frequently, they still have to deal with costly rejections due to GMO contamination.”

The survey found, among other things, that five out of six are concerned about GMO contamination impacting their farm, with 60% saying they are extremely concerned and that one out of three responding farmers have dealt with GMO contamination on their farm. Of those contaminated farmers, over half have been rejected by their buyers for that reason. They reported a median cost of a rejected semi load (approximately 1,000 bushels) of $4,500.

An issue brief on the survey results can be found at

© Copyright The Organic & Non-GMO Report, April 2014