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9-Misc: First impacts of GMOs on organic farmers documented in theU.S.



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TITLE:  OFRF releases partial results of 4th National Organic Farmers Survey
        First impacts of GMOs on organic farmers are now documented
SOURCE: Organic Farming Research Foundation, USA
        http://ofrf.org/press/Releases/PR.051403.GMOSurvey.html
DATE:   May 14, 2003

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OFRF releases partial results of 4th National Organic Farmers Survey:
First impacts of GMOs on organic farmers are now documented

SANTA CRUZ, CALIF. - In a nationwide survey conducted by the Organic
Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), certified organic farmers have
reported the first direct financial and related operational impacts
associated with the threat of contamination by genetically modified
organisms (GMOs). National standards for organic products, recently
implemented by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture exclude recombinant-DNA
technologies from use in organic farming. In addition, there are a
variety of strict tolerances for GMO contamination imposed on organic
growers by foreign and domestic buyers.

Coping with the threat and consequences of GMO contamination is a recent
development for organic farmers. "In 1998, when OFRF conducted our
previous survey, GMO contamination was not yet a national issue," said
OFRF Executive Director Bob Scowcroft. "These new survey results based on
the 2001 crop year document that significant impacts have begun to occur
within a very short time frame. If this trend continues, what we're
seeing now will prove to be just the tip of the iceberg."

According to OFRF President Ron Rosmann, a diversified organic farmer
from Harlan, Iowa, "This new data supports OFRF's call for a moratorium
on the release of GMOs until there is a solid regulatory framework that
prevents genetic pollution and assigns liability for the damages imposed
by GMO contamination." (OFRF's Organizational Policy Statement on Genetic
Engineering in Agriculture is available at <http://ofrf.org/policy/
gmopolicy.html>.)

The OFRF survey, Sustaining Organic Farms in a Changing Organic
Marketplace, included nine questions related to GMOs and organic farming.
Highlights of the survey results are as follows:

- 17% of survey respondents indicated that they have had GMO testing
conducted on some portion of their organic farm seed, inputs or farm
products. 11% of those that had GMO testing conducted indicated that they
received positive test results for GMO contamination on some portion of
their organic seed, inputs or farm products.

- 8% of the respondents indicated that their organic farm operation has
borne some direct costs or damages related to the presence of GMOs in
agriculture. These costs include: payment for testing seed, inputs, or
organic farm products for GMO contamination; loss of organic sales/
markets due to actual contamination or perceived contamination risk; loss
of sales due to presence of GMOS in organic product; or loss of organic
certification due to presence of GMOs in organic products.

- 48% of the survey respondents indicated that they have taken some
measures to protect their organic farms from GMO contamination. The
greatest percentage, 24%, indicated that they have communicated with
neighboring farmers about GMO risks to their farm.

- 19% indicated that they have increased the size of buffer zones to
neighboring farms, 18% have discontinued use of certain inputs at risk
for GMO contamination, 15% have adjusted timing of crop planting, 13%
have altered cropping patterns or crops produced, and 9% have changed
cropping locations.

- 46% of the survey respondents rated the risk of exposure and possible
contamination of their organic farm products by GMOs as moderate or
greater, with 30% characterizing their farm's risk as high or very high.

Survey respondents identified contaminated seed stock as their primary
concern as a possible source of GMO contamination of their organic farm
products (identified as a moderate to high risk by 48% of respondents).
This was followed by GMO pollen drift in the field (identified as a
moderate to high risk by 42% of respondents) and contaminated farm
inputs, other than seed, (identified by 30% of respondents as a moderate
to high risk). Such inputs might include seed inoculants or manures and
composts from materials obtained from off the farm.

Only 10% of survey respondents feel that a regulatory framework is in
place to adequately protect their organic farm products from damages due
to contamination from GMOs.

In spring 2002, OFRF mailed a 22-page survey to certified organic farmers
throughout the U.S, with 1,034 farmers responding. The 4th National
Organic Farmers' Survey, Sustaining Organic Farms in a Changing Organic
Marketplace, is OFRF's first survey to focus specifically on organic
farmers' experiences in the organic market. The survey was conducted with
support from True North Foundation, Wallace Genetic Foundation, the USDA
Agricultural Marketing Service, and contributors to OFRF's general
program fund.

The OFRF survey included 8 sections: Farm profile; Production and product
detail; Marketing your organic products; Organic market conditions, 2001;
Information and services; Marketing orders and organic; GMOs and organic;
and More about you and your farm (demographics).

OFRF surveys collect and disseminate information on the demographics,
production, marketing and research priorities of organic farmers in the
U.S. The survey population is developed from producer certification lists
voluntarily provided by organic certification agencies.

OFRF survey results relevant to GMOs and organic farms will be released
this week at the Organic Trade Association's All Things Organic
Conference and Trade Show in Austin, Texas. The complete results of
OFRF's 4th National Organic Farmers' Survey: Sustaining Organic Farms in
a Changing Organic Marketplace will be published in fall 2003.


CONTACT:
Bob Scowcroft, +1-831-426-6606
Erica Walz, +1-435-826-4565


 # # #

To view the printable version of this press release, click here. (PDF)

To view the Power Point presentation of the gmo survey results, click
here. (You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this document. Go to
www.adobe.com to download the free software. If you have any
difficulties, please call the OFRF office at 831-426-6606.)




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