GENET archive


8-Misc: US Organic Trade Association calls for GE crop moratorium

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TITLE:  OTA calls for moratorium on using GMOs in agriculture
SOURCE: Organic Trade Association, USA, Press Release 
DATE:   January 14, 2000

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OTA calls for moratorium on using GMOs in agriculture

GREENFIELD, Mass. (Jan. 14, 2000) ­ Citing the adverse impact of
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on organic production, the
Organic Trade Association (OTA) is calling for a moratorium on
the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in all
agricultural production.

"More independent research and regulation are necessary before
any more GMOs are allowed in agriculture. As long as GMOs
continue to be allowed, organic producers are at risk from
background levels of GMOs," OTA said in a position statement
released today. Genetic engineering works by moving DNA between
species in ways that are not possible in nature. The use of this
technology in agriculture has the potential to cause unintended
effects on the environment and on human health, OTA pointed out.
Organic certification organizations already prohibit the use of
GMO seeds or other products of GMOs in organic production.

Although the certified organic label means GMOs are not used, OTA
noted that some organic products could inadvertently contain
small amounts of GMO material from exposure to pollen from GMO
crops in the field or incidental GMO ingredients in processing.
Minor ingredients made from corn or soy, in particular, must be
carefully sourced to avoid GMO by-products. At the very minimum,
OTA said, there should be mandatory labeling of GMO foods, with
the real goal of an outright, worldwide moratorium on GMO use in
all agriculture.

"Labeling should apply to all genetically engineered products
destined for food‹not only raw agricultural products but
processing enzymes, yeasts, extractions, and other genetically
engineered minor ingredients as well," OTA said in writtencomments submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Adminitration (FDA). OTA pointed out that organic producers take great 
are to offer customers a quality product with only the limiteduse of synthetic processing materials or ingredients. "Now, producers
are faced with not only the problem of contamination in the
field but, more fundamentally, even the inability to be sure they
are choosing non-genetically engineered minor ingredients‹because
they are not labeled. The burden of labeling should not be on the
producers of conventional or organic food.

They are not the ones introducing this new technology. The burden
should be on the companies seeking to market these novel
products." OTA also supports the consumeršs right to know and to
choose foods and other products based on environmental, personal
health, religious, dietary or other preferences. "Labeling of GMO
products or products containing GMOs is necessary to making these
choices," OTA said.

In addition to urging FDA to adopt mandatory labeling for GMO
foods, OTA has requested that the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency halt the use of GMOs, especially Bt plants. The comment to
EPA was filed in response to Monsantošs application for
experimental use permits for three new strains of Bt corn.
Spelling out how Bt plants are harmful to organic agriculture,
OTA called the introduction of Bt plants without extensive
scientific study "irresponsible."

"Because of EPAšs lack of oversight and consequent ignorance of
the negative effects of Bt plant pesticides, including the
effects on non-target species, EPA must now take significant
steps to regain public confidence. Until a transparent and
scientifically rigorous process for setting conditions for
registration is established, these steps should include a
moratorium on the registration of genetically modified plant
pesticides," OTA told EPA.

Urging EPA to immediately rescind the registrations of any low-
or moderate-dose plant pesticides, OTA added, "If EPA chooses not
to enact a moratorium on further registrations, it should require
and monitor scientifically sized refugia." Thus, at the very
least, OTA wrote, EPA should review and revise its policy
regarding buffer zones, incorporate independent ecological field
studies, and insist on the creation of buffer zones around Bt
crops as part of the requirement for the use of Bt corn.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the business association
representing the organic agriculture industry in North America.
Its more than 1,000 members include growers, shippers,
processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors,
importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. Founded
in 1985, OTA encourages global sustainability through promoting
and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade

Holly Givens (413) 774-7511


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