Some of the farmers that NSAC and our members work with and represent choose to grow only non-genetically engineered (GE) crop varieties. Their reasons vary: some because the markets they serve demand GE-free products; others because they have concerns about potential adverse health, environmental, or agronomic impacts of GE crop technologies; and others because they are USDA certified organic. These producers sustain substantial economic losses when their products contain unintended GE material at levels exceeding market or organic certification specifications.
In addition, exposure of organic or non-GE fields to GE pollen, pesticides, and herbicides from neighboring farms utilizing GE crop technology packages can lead to adverse ecological and agronomic consequences for the non-GE producer, as well as tensions among farmers. Thus, the challenges of coexistence among contrasting farming systems directly impact the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of our nation’s agriculture and rural communities, and are of great concern for NSAC.
NSAC also supports a transparent and equitable food supply, which includes consumers’ right to know what’s in their food. We recognize the need for a mandatory federal GE, or genetically-modified organism (GMO), labeling program to provide that transparency to consumers.
For NSAC’s policy on GMOs see our policy position paper.
NSAC member organizations are leaders in the sustainable agriculture and food systems sector, and have worked with farmers and communities to pioneer practices, systems, and supply chains that support the multiple goals of sustainability. These include certified organic, sustainable, non-genetically engineered (GE ), and identity-preserved systems and supply chains that are impacted by a coexistence framework.
NSAC believes there is significant need for a robust framework that ensures the diverse sectors of American agriculture can thrive. However, a viable framework must address the need to use existing authority to update and revise the existing regulatory framework on GE crop technologies; the need to establish a strong contamination prevention framework; the need for a fair compensation mechanism when contamination occurs; and the need for addressing pressing research needs related to coexistence and the use of GE products.
We therefore work with USDA, members of Congress, and farmers across the country to advocate for a framework that includes sound, science-based information that empowers farmers to make good decisions regarding their production systems and to implement stewardship practices that enhance coexistence; effective measures to prevent contamination of organic and other non-GE farm products and crop seed with unintended GE content; a fair and workable system of compensation in the event that GE contamination leads to economic losses for organic and non-GE producers; and mechanisms for preventing and responding to problems associated with drift of agricultural chemicals associated with GE crops onto neighboring farms, including concerns for not damaging crops and natural resources such as pollinator habitat.
Recent NSAC Actions on Coexistence
For more information on our work regarding genetic engineering, visit our blog!
The issue of whether or not to label foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is an increasingly divisive one. Consumers may chose to purchase non-GMO products for a variety of personal reasons, including religious, social, or environmental values. The increasing industrialization of our food supply has resulted in less transparency and less consumer choice. Sustainable food systems seek to counter these trends by increasing opportunity and transparency in the food system and reconnecting consumers with farmers.
NSAC’s work focuses on increasing transparency and choice for consumers, and market opportunities for farmers. In particular, NSAC works with USDA, members of Congress, and our members and allies to support GMO labeling and oppose attempts to undermine states’ authority to decided whether or not to require labels on foods containing GMOs. Congress recently passed a bill that President Obama signed into law to require mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs. USDA is now tasked with implementing the law through new regulations.
Recent NSAC Actions on GMO Labeling
For the latest news on GMO labeling, visit our blog!