Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
could be completely segregated from maize intended for human consumption, until evi-
dence emerged that taco shells had tested positive for the presence of the genetic modifi-
cation unique to “Starlink” maize. This highly publicized incident succeeded in pouring
gas on the smoldering anti-biotech campaign in the United States, which now had proof
that unapproved GM grain could be found in the US food supply. US public conscious-
ness was finally raised to the notion that GM crops existed, that they were in a wide vari-
ety of food products on grocery store shelves, and that segregating them from non-GM
and organic crops was, potentially, not possible. Thus, the US anti-biotech movement
gained considerable momentum, and their activities have continued to reverberate up
and down the US commodity supply chain (Shurman and Kelso 2003).
Managing Co-existence
In the EU, organic produce and products that contain greater than 0.9% transgenic
material must be labeled as containing GMOs (CEC 2001), according to the EU
Coexistence Policy.36 Should this occur, organic and non-GM farmers would lose the
premium price they would otherwise have received for their products. Member states
vary in how liability is assigned in such cases. In 2011, a suit for damages was brought
by a German beekeeper, whose honey had been rejected at the point of sale because it
contained traces of GM pollen. The European Court of Justice ruled that honey con-
taining traces of GM pollen, although unintentional, “must always be regarded as food
produced from a GMO.”37
In the United States, there is no co-existence policy, no mandatory labeling, and no
clear means to assign liability if adventitious presence is detected. Instead, US organic
and non-GM growers must monitor the supply chain themselves and take necessary
precautions to prevent inadvertent commingling of their products with those contain-
ing GM.
In light of gene flow and adventitious presence, it is clear that GM seeds cannot be
completely segregated from non-GM seeds using standard operating procedures in
the field, during transport or during processing. Increasing public pressure in the EU
prompted the European Commission Joint Research Centre (Bock et al. 2002) to test
coexistence scenarios for three crops, namely oilseed rape (OSR), maize for animal feed,
and potato for human consumption. Each of these crops varies in its potential for gene
flow. Oilseed rape is an outcrossing species that is also bee pollinated, which represents
the most likely of the three crops to present a gene flow problem for non-GM farmers in
a given region. Maize is intermediate in gene flow risk; maize pollen is much heavier and
does not travel as far so gene flow is likely to be manageable through use of appropriate
isolation distances. The potato, which is propagated vegetatively, would present the low-
est gene flow risk. Risk scenarios were evaluated by computer simulations and expert
opinion. The scenarios considered several variations in the allowable limit for GM con-
tent in non-GM plant material: 0.1%, which represents the limit of detection for the
Search WWH ::

Custom Search