Organic Consumers Association

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USDA Committee Report Leaves GE Contamination Burden on Farmers' Shoulders

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

WASHINGTON - "Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report produced by the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture, also known as AC21. This committee met for over a year with the task of designing a compensation mechanism for farmers who are economically harmed by contamination from genetically engineered (GE) crops. The recommendations in the final report, released yesterday, completely miss the mark by putting forth an insurance compensation mechanism that would put the financial burden of contamination on organic and non-GE farmers, while letting the patent-holding biotechnology companies that create this technology avoid their responsibility.

"It is outrageous that those being most harmed by GE contamination are the ones that would be responsible for paying into an insurance program outlined in the report. The liable party for contamination should be the patent holder of the gene technology, not the farmer who grows its seed. The companies that profit from the technology should develop a fund from which contaminated farmers can be compensated. Yet during the committee's meetings, there was virtually no discussion about the idea of a patent-holder funded compensation fund.

"Aside from the fact that organic and non-GE growers should not be responsible for their harm from GE contamination, there are growing concerns that a crop insurance mechanism is not feasible for organic growers. Often, organic growers are reimbursed for losses at conventional prices, instead of receiving the premium associated with their specialized production, and others do not even have access to crop insurance because there is less risk data associated with these crops. 
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