With each passing year, an increasing number of states are attempting to adopt GMO labeling laws amid the federal government’s resistance to allow you to know what’s in your food. With each victory, or even loss, we get stronger — and closer to making GMO labeling a reality. The sad reality, however, is that many experts say GMO labeling will not suffice in the overall fight against biotech due to the fact that GMO crops can easily contaminate nearby farms.

A new report finds that the GMO contamination issue is much more serious than previously thought, and the concerned experts couldn’t be more correct.

There have been numerous real-life cases of GMO contamination thus far, though most aren’t well known. One key example rests with Australian farmer Steve Marsh, an organic farmer who sued a neighboring farmer for compensation after his field of non-GMO wheat was contaminated by Michael Baxter’s RoundUp Ready canola seeds. He took his case to the Supreme Court of Western Australia and lost.

Another example of GMO contamination can be seen with an unapproved strain of genetically modified wheat discovered in Oregon. The Roundup Ready strain was nixed in 2005 when global resistance to Monsanto forced the company to stop working on it. It was never approved for use, let along growing and exporting.

The claim by the biotech industry that GMO crops can be contained and kept away from organic farmers who have chosen not to use genetically modified ‘suicide’ seeds has steadily been proven false. A third of organic growers are now reporting problems with cross contamination, according to one survey. More than 80% of farmers who participated in the survey are ‘concerned’ about the impact of genetic seeds. About 60% are ‘very concerned.’

One organic farmer, Oren Holle, blames the USDA’s loving relationship with Monsanto:

 “…the USDA has been extremely lax and, in our opinion, that’s due to the excessive influence of the biotech industry in political circles.”

The newly released report outlining the prevalence of GMO contamination, which can be found in the International Journal of Food Contamination, reports that by the end of 2013 and since 1997, 396 incidents of GMO cross-contamination across 63 countries had been recorded. Many of which had involved GM rice.

The Paper Makes the Following Main Points:

  • 1. GMO contamination is unavoidable and will happen no matter what through nature.
  • 2. Contamination will even occur via field trials or illegal plantings. The report references 9 cases of contamination of unauthorized GMO crops which have bypassed environmental and food safety testing.
  • 3. Genetically modified rice made up about 33% of the contamination cases by crop. This is despite the fact that as of December 2012, GM rice hasn’t even become widely available for production or consumption. There is a global absence of any commercial cultivation of GM rice. The authors suggest this figure might be related to the routine testing of imports of GM rice at national borders.
  • 4. It is difficult to contain and halt contamination after it has already happened.
  • 5. “From these data, it’s not clear what the main factors affecting contamination rates are. It’s not only the GM contamination itself (cross-pollination, mix-ups etc.) that contributes to the number of cases, but also the the testing regime (both routine and targeted). The highest rates of contamination are in imported foodstuffs to Germany but this is probably because they do a lot of testing. All EU countries have high rates because they report their findings of the RASFF database. The data for contamination exists – but not the factors to analyse what influences contamination.”
  • 6. The researchers conclude that for most experimental GMOs, there is no protocol for testing, which makes detection for contamination extremely difficult.

The report concluded:

“The detection of GMO contamination is dependent on both routine and targeted monitoring regimes, which appears to be inconsistent from country to country, even within the EU. The lack of an analytical methodology for the detection of GM crops at the field trial stage (i.e. pre-commercialisation) can hamper efforts to detect any contamination arising from such GM lines.”

This article originally appeared at Natural Society.


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