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Fedco Does Not Knowingly Carry Genetically Engineered Seeds

genetic engineering slot machine imageAt our 1996 Annual Meeting we voted unanimously not to knowingly offer for sale any genetically engineered variety because the new gene technologies pose unacceptable risks to the environment. In 1999 we affirmed and clarified that position and will follow the guidelines of the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) which prohibit the use of genetically engineered organisms in organic crop production. OMRI uses the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) definition of genetic engineering.

Please note the word “knowingly.” Because of the possibility of contamination, over which we have no control, our pledge necessarily stops short of being an absolute guarantee. Although we will not sell any variety represented to us as genetically engineered, we will not be held legally responsible if any of our seed tests positive for genetically modified organisms. We have been advised not to sign any blanket statements such as “GMO free” that require us to state with certainty that our products are pure. Please do not submit such statements with your order. We apologize for having to split legal hairs, but we all share the reality of genetic drift.

Along with more than 150 other seed companies, we have signed:


Agriculture and seeds provide the basis on which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing are necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately people and communities.

Genetic Engineering News

Since suffering narrow defeats in three Pacific Coast state referendum campaigns (plus a decisive loss in Colorado) labeling proponents have largely been on the defensive. This summer the U.S. House passed H.R. 1599, deceptively called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. Because this legislation would not only prohibit counties or states from labeling or regulating GE foods, but would also amend the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to give GE foods a special exemption from review, it has cleverly been re-dubbed by opponents as the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know).

Despite a staged hearing heavily loaded with proponents, it has run into some resistance in the Senate, and is likely to undergo changes before being introduced into that chamber. Contact your senators to let them know that you oppose H.R. 1599 or any such federal legislation that would pre-empt the right of states to pass GE labeling laws or that would give such foods special exemptions from FDA review. Meanwhile, the one unconditional state labeling law—enacted in Vermont—is being challenged in court by the Grocery Manufacturers of America and big biotech.

Need further background on GE issues? We strongly recommend Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer our Food has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public by Steven M. Druker.

We Test Sweet Corn Seed and Beet Seed for Transgenic Contamination

To help ensure the purity of our seed, we have for the past dozen years employed industry leader Genetic ID to test random samples of our sweet corn lots for the presence of transgenic contamination. Because of the risks posed by production of genetically engineered Roundup Ready beets, we added beet and chard varieties to our GE testing program.

We remove any lots that test positive for transgenic contamination.

A negative test result, while not guaranteeing genetic purity, improves your chances that the seed is uncontaminated. These tests are expensive, but in a time of genetic roulette, they are necessary though not sufficient to assure seed purity. Only if the seed trade takes an adamant position that we will not tolerate GE contamination in our product can we maintain any integrity in our seed supply.

Links to: Articles by CR Lawn about genetic engineering.