ECHO, Minnesota, May 24, 2005, The Associated Press via CropChoice.com:
At least one organic farmer in Minnesota is worried
that genetically engineered material used by his neighbors
could make its way into his crops, harming his chances
for marketing his products.
In Minnesota, less than 1 percent of the land is devoted
to organic production. But John Remmele said he believes
organic crops are the way of the future.
"I guess I'm quite convinced that organic produce
in the end is a lot better than having produce with
different chemicals, different drugs in it," said
Remmele, an organic corn producer in southern Minnesota.
Most of the grain grown in Minnesota is genetically
altered, with certain genes spliced in to combat insects
or make the plant tolerant of some chemical pesticides.
Occasionally a bag of seed accidentally contains kernels
which are from a genetically altered variety. In addition,
pollen from an altered crop, often called GMO's for
genetically modified organism, can drift onto the silks
of an organic field.
"I think everyone's getting concerned about the
fact that drift's probably in everyone's field. Even
if it's only a few kernels in a field it's still there,"
Organic farmers can reduce the risk by planting genetically
sensitive crops like corn as far away as possible from
neighboring fields. About 60 percent of the corn grown
in the state is genetically altered. The U.S. Department
of Agriculture prohibits genetically modified crops
from being sold as "organic." The United States
has not set a standard, but most parts of the world
accept trace amounts of GMO material in organic grain,
according to a report Monday by Minnesota Public Radio.
The European Union accepts organic grain as long as
it contains less than one percent GMO material. That
standard has been adopted by many U.S. food companies.
One of the largest organic grain buyers in Minnesota
is Sunrich. Kate Leavitt, who manages Sunrich's international
sales division, said the company checks every truckload
of grain it receives for GMO material. The company buys
about 6 million bushels of organic corn a year, and
she said only a handful of trucks were rejected last
"We certainly do want to be able to offer product
that meets the highest level of standards," Leavitt
said. "But I think we can certainly argue that
99-point-some percent is certainly a very high standard."