Biotech crops do not contaminate: words matter
Sometimes you just have to pay attention.
I do not grow organic crops on my farm and often do not listen to discussions about organic rules and regulations. That is a mistake, because some pretty obscure language from the United States Department of Agriculture is important to me and other farmers that plant biotech seeds.
I am referring of course to Appendix 3, Part 3, Subsection G of a new agreement involving the trade of organic food between the United States and the European Union.
That was next on your reading list, right?
The main purpose of the U.S.-E.U. pact is positive. It basically says that both parties will accept each other’s standards on organic food–an acceptance that creates incredible export opportunities for farmers who specialize in this niche field. Even if organics are not on your grocery list, possibly because they tend to cost more, it’s hard not to approve of a deal that will help American farmers sell their products overseas.
The agreement also describes the creation of something called the Organics Working Group, which, according to Appendix 3.3.G, will study the “contamination of organic products from genetically modified organisms.”
Contamination? Really? This is where a dictionary comes in handy. Webster’s defines “contaminate” thusly: “To make impure, infected, corrupt, radioactive, etc. by contact with or addition of something; pollute; defile; sully; taint.”
This contamination theory is largely based on the premise that pollen from a biotech planted field can flow to an organically planted field that does not use biotechnology. That is of course true. All pollen, including pollen from a biotech plant, moves in the environment. But does biotech pollen fit the definition of contamination? No, it does not.
We all understand how bees contribute to the pollination of many plants. Anyone that suffers from allergies to ragweed pollen can attest that pollen flow can have adverse affects in our environment. That is not true with pollen from biotech crops.
There is absolutely no reason to treat pollen from biotech seeds differently than from non-biotech. Biotech crops are the most intensely studied and regulated crops on the planet. They have been planted on billions of acres over the last 15 years with no credible health concerns. The technology is good for the environment because it allow farmers to produce more yield with less inputs. Even organic growers are not harmed by the proximity of biotech crops. If a farmer follows the rules specified by the USDA for organic production the presence of biotechnology in their harvest does not disqualify their organic certification. Under these circumstances, how can biotechnology be considered a contaminant?