Contamination found in foundation seedstocks of Natto soybeans
Roundup Ready soybean genetics recently discovered in foundation seeds used by breeders -- "the seed for the seeds"


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 issue.

Please 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
we don’t
to take!
Warren Craft,
Stanley, ND
9824 79th St. SE, Fullerton, ND 58441
Phone & Fax: 701-883-4304
Web site:
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
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.

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