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.
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
“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
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,
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.