Earlier this fall The New Farm® worked with
the NPSAS to develop an automated email
campaign allowing you to express your concern
about the GMO contamination of foundation
feedstocks. This new discovery of contaminated
foundation soybeans adds new urgency to
the need to make your voice heard on this
check out our email letter campaign.
It will only take a moment to send your
concerns to leaders in land grant universities
across the upper midwest who are charged
with protecting foundation seedstocks.
NOVEMBER 18, 2002: A press release from the
Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society.
In the debate surrounding the commercialization of Roundup
Ready wheat, the ability to segregate GMO and non-GMO
varieties has been used to assure concerned farmers
of their continued freedom of choice.
Yet, in spite of the North Dakota State University
Foundation Seedstocks Program's attempts to segregate
and keep transgenic varieties out of its non-GMO varieties,
it has been discovered that two lots of Foundation Seedstocks
for NDSU’s Natto soybeans have been contaminated
with Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean genetics.
Foundation seedstocks, as the name implies, is the
foundation for our entire seed system. The Foundation
Seedstocks Program is charged with taking the seed produced
by our plant breeders and increasing that seed to provide
pure seed to producers of registered and certified seed.
Foundation seedstocks is the “seed for the seed”
and therefore must be true to the variety developed
by the plant breeder.
“Contamination of foundation seedstocks strikes
at the very heart of the segregation argument. Not only
does it call into question how realistic it is to think
we can keep transgenic varieties out but it raises the
issue of at what cost and who bears the liability for
the costs associated with such an event,” states
Duane Boehm, a producer near Richardton, ND.
Dale Williams, Director of the NDSU Foundation Seedstocks
program, stated that two lots of the Natto varieties
were found to be contaminated after having been shipped
down to Chile to grow more foundation seed during the
winter months. When the lots were brought back to North
Dakota this spring, they were distributed to growers
of registered seed, some of it destined for producers
of Identity Preserved (IP) and organic production.
The contamination was discovered after harvest in October,
when the Foundation Seedstocks Program identified and
weeded out uncharacteristic plants from their Natto
plots grown from these lots and had the plants tested
for suspected transgenic contamination. Some of those
plants tested positive for the presence of Monsanto’s
Roundup Ready genes.
The Foundation Seedstocks Program then harvested their
seed lots, cleaned the lots, and tested the cleanings
for Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genes. The tests
again showed levels of contamination.
At this point, Williams called on the producers implicated
through the sales from those contaminated seed lots
this last spring, notifying them of the contamination
issues with the seed they bought. Those issues carry
over then to the seed they have subsequently produced.
The decision to destroy these foundation lots has not
been made despite statements made early this spring,
that if foundation seedstocks were to become contaminated
with transgenic varieties they would be destroyed. Using
differences in the size of the Natto soybeans and Roundup
Ready soybeans, which are larger, the Foundation Seedstocks
Program is attempting to clean up the contamination
and follow up with testing. However, Williams acknowledged
the limits of this approach. He stated that the Foundation
Seedstocks Program is operating under a “full
disclosure policy” to notify customers of these
Natto soybean seed lots of the transgenic contamination.
Williams pointed out that the Foundation Seedstocks
Program can go back to the small amount of breeders
seed being kept in cold storage to again increase the
foundation seedstocks for these lots of Natto soybeans.
The risks to the Foundation Seedstocks Program demonstrated
by this transgenic contamination event are clear.. "As
a producer of certified wheat seed, this is a risk we
don’t want to take!” states Warren Craft,
a certified seed producer near Stanley, ND. We must
say “NO” to Roundup Ready wheat, or we risk
the same headlines for our wheat seedstocks!”
is a risk
NORTHERN PLAINS SUSTAINABLE
9824 79th St. SE, Fullerton, ND 58441
Phone & Fax: 701-883-4304
Web site: www.npsas.org
For Immediate Release…….November 11, 2002
For more information, contact Theresa Podoll, NPSAS
Executive Director, at 701-883-4304.
For more information on the risks posed by transgenic
varieties to foundation seedstocks and NPSAS’s
“Save Our Seed” campaign visit http://www.npsas.org/SaveOurSeed.html
NPSAS is a non-profit educational organization dedicated
to sustainable food production and distribution
systems. The Society has over 345 members in the Northern
Great Plains region and was founded in 1979.