ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  11 March 2001


 International Federation of  Organic Agricultural Movements - Press Release

 Despite the organic movement's stringent efforts to keep GMOs (genetically  engineered /modified organisms) out of organic production, some US organic  farmers have found their corn (maize) crops, including seeds, to contain  detectable levels of genetically engineered DNA.
 "Those who claim ownership rights to these genes should be held liable for  their uncontrolled spread in the environment and into our food," says  Gunnar Rundgren, President of the International Federation of Organic  Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), which unites 730 member organisations in  103  countries.
 The organic movement is firm in its opposition to any use of GMOs in  agriculture, and organic standards explicitly prohibit their use.  The  farmers, whose seed is contaminated, have been under rigid organic  certification, which assures that they did not use any kind of genetically  modified materials on their farms. Any trace of GMOs must have come from  outside their production areas.  While the exact origin is unclear at this time, it is most likely that the pollution has been caused by pollen drift from GMO-fields in surrounding areas.  However, the contamination may have also come from the seed supply.  Seed producers, who intended to supply  GMO-free seed, have also been confronted with genetic pollution and cannot guarantee that their seed is 100% GMO-free.
 "This is more evidence that GMOs are polluting the environment in a way that is outside the control of society or the companies that have released these GMOs, and we are outraged.  It means that consumers could soon be deprived of their right to choose GMO-free food, if this unwanted spread of genetically altered genes is not stopped," Gunnar Rundgren continues.
 Organic products remain the best option for consumers who wish to avoid GMO-food and resist their use in agriculture.  Organic farmers and independent certification agencies will take all reasonable measures to prevent contamination.  However, IFOAM, organic farmers and certifiers can not do this job alone. Unless action is taken immediately, it may soon be impossible to produce uncontaminated organic corn crops in the US.  This is equally true for conventional farmers who want to produce corn without GMOs.
 The problem of pollution not only has direct consequences for organic farmers; it also means a dramatic loss of the cultural heritage of agricultural varieties, which has huge implications for populations around the world.  For thousands of years, humans have selected and bred natural
 varieties adapted to unique climatic zones and regional properties, in order to provide us with quality food.  It is the aim of organic agriculture to preserve this natural way, based on sound scientific and ecological principles.
 IFOAM calls on governments and regulatory agencies throughout the world to immediately ban the use of genetic engineering in agriculture and food production, while there is still a chance to stop this unwanted pollution. IFOAM further holds genetic engineering industries responsible for the damage they have inflicted on organic farmers.  Governments are therefore urged to pass legislation that makes GMO companies liable for all genetic pollution caused by the products they own.

 Anaheim/USA and Tholey-Theley/Germany
 March 9th 2001
 Contact for further information:
 Northamerica: Suzanne Vaupel (email: phone/fax:+1-916-444-1877)
 Annie Kirschenmann (email: phone:
 Latinamerica: Alberto (Pipo) Lernoud (email: phone
 +5411-48621424/fax -47775082)
 Europe: Luise Lutikholt (email: phone
 +31-30-2339970/fax -2304423)
 Asia: Prabha Mahale (email: phone
 +91-124-6388900/fax -6388769)
 Australia: Liz Clay (email: phone+221-634-1837/fax

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