Tag Archives: GMOs

eOrganic webinars in January

New Webinars in January: Ancient Grains, Organic System Plans, Pecan and Peach, GMO Crops

Register now for new eOrganic webinars in January! Advance registration is required, and the webinars are free and open to the public. Topics include ancient grains, developing an organic system plan for row crops, pest and disease control in pecan and peach, and the coexistence of GMO, organic, and non-GMO crops. Find out more information and register at the links below.

  • January 7, 2013: Developing an Organic System Plan for Row Crop Production, by Beth Rota, independent consultant for the University of Missouri. This presentation details how to develop an organic system plan for crop production to comply with the USDA National Organic Standard, with special attention to organic row crop production. The presenter will cover what must be included in organic system plan and the basic steps to organic certification. Register at http://www.extension.org/pages/66582
  • January 8, 2013: The “Ancient” Grains Emmer, Einkorn and Spelt: What We Know and What We Need to Find Out, by Frank Kutka and Steve Zwinger of North Dakota State University, Julie Dawson of Cornell, and June Russell of Greenmarket, Grow NYC. A team of researchers from the NIFA OREI project Value-added grains for local and regional food systems will focus on the so-called ancient grains–einkorn , emmer and spelt–including their origins and attributes, current and potential uses and markets, and what we know so far about how to grow them. The team will also give an overview of the project’s current work on developing best management practices for these grains, dehulling options, and identifying varieties and landraces with superior yield, flavor, or nutritional content. This webinar is for those interested in specialty grains, including farmers, consumers, bakers, chefs, millers, and other grain processors. Register at http://www.extension.org/pages/66321
  • January 10, 2013. Live Broadcast from the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference: How Can Organic, Non-GMO, and GMO Crops Coexist? Lynn Clarkson, Clarkson Grain. How can organic, non-GMO, and GMO crops coexist? That is the puzzle that USDA’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology & 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) has been asked to answer. AC21 Committee member Lynn Clarkson, President of Clarkson Grain in Cerro Gordo, IL will discuss AC21′s work and the issues at stake. Of special concern is adventitious presence, the term used for low levels of unintended material in seed, grain, or feed and food products. Clarkson will review the arguments underlying the battles between GMO and non-GMO farmers over adventitious presence and explore potential compromises to minimize adventitious presence in organic, non-GMO, and selected GMO crops. Register at http://www.extension.org/pages/66781
  • January 29, 2013: Organic Methods for Control of Insect Pests and Diseases of Pecan and Peach, by David Shapiro-Ilan and Clive Bock of the USDA-ARS Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, GA. A number of insect pests and diseases can cause severe damage in orchard crops such as pecan and peach. Drs. David Shapiro-Ilan and Clive Bock from the USDA-ARS Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron GA will provide information on organic solutions to control the key insect pests and diseases of pecan and peach. Based on their own research as well as others, Shapiro-Ilan and Bock will discuss organic approaches that are currently available as well as prospects for the future; some of their research results are applicable to other cropping systems as well. Register at http://www.extension.org/pages/66504

Find all upcoming and archived eOrganic webinars at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242

GMO Labeling in the News

The GMO labeling act that Representative Deborah Mell introduced last year is moving again and has been assigned to the Agriculture Committee. HB 1429 provides that all foods containing genetically engineered material or produced with genetically engineered material must be clearly marked with a label placed in a conspicuous place that indicates that the food contains genetically engineered material or was produced with a genetically engineered material. Track the bill’s progress here.

According to Wes King of the IL Stewardship Alliance, “It is also worth noting that there is a lot of attention on California and their GMO labeling referendum effort. An effort that if success would likely mean GMO labeling for the whole country because of the sheer size of the California market– it would be too costly to produce one line of products that were labeled for the CA market and then another for the rest of the country.”

Also, if you are headed to the Good Food Festival in Chicago on March 15-17, note that there is a panel discussion at 12:30PM on Saturday, March 17: What You Need to Know about GMOs. Panelists include:

  • Valerie Dantoin Adamski, Full Circle Farm
  • Brooke Havlik, Shedd Aquarium
  • Dave Murphy, Food Democracy Now
  • Warren Porter, University of Wisconsin (invited)
  • Kim Hack, American Institute of Wine and Food, moderator

Finally, Northwestern University researcher Caroline Coccoli would like to talk with organic farmers about their GMO experiences, including the methods they use to prevent GMO contamination (what seems to work/doesn’t work), yearly or seasonal testing fees, etc.

GMOs and Organic are in the News

USDA moves to let Monsanto perform its own environmental impact studies on GMOs
This GRIST magazine was published 4/19/11
“To satisfy the legal system’s pesky demand for environmental impact studies of novel GMO crops, the USDA has settled upon a brilliant solution: let the GMO industry conduct its own environmental impact studies, or pay other researchers to. The USDA announced the program in the Federal Register for April 7, 2011.”


Can Biotech and Organic Farmers Get Along?
by Erik Stokstad was published in Science 8 April 2011: 166-169. “With so much of U.S. fields planted with genetically modified (GM) crops—93% for soybeans—everyone agrees it’s impossible to completely exclude transgenes from organic fields, but they can be kept to minimal levels. With a defined threshold, scientists can figure out the appropriate distances between fields to minimize gene flow. In the future, computer models of pollinator behavior may help provide recommendations tailored to particular landscapes. Another approach to prevent the spread of transgenes is to breed crops that can’t be fertilized by transgenic pollen; the first commercial varieties of corn with this protection should be released this fall. But the sides remain split on key issues. Organic groups demand more government oversight, that the biotech industry share the cost of preventing gene flow, and the creation of a compensation fund for damages if their crops cannot be sold as organic. The biotech industry opposes all of these goals. So far, USDA seems to continue to lean toward the industry in how it approves GM crops. “