Tuesday, January 20, 2004

There appears to be some uncertainty about what organic is in Mendocino [Ukiah Daily Journal]
[Peggy G. Lemaux, a University of California Cooperative Extension Specialist from the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology] highlighted the fact that she personally called Ray Green, the Organic Supervisor for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and asked him if an organic farmer would 'automatically lose his accreditation' if his crop became pollinated with pollen from a GMO crop.

The answer was no, Lemaux said, 'as long as an organic operation has not used excluded methods and takes reasonable steps to avoid contact with the products of excluded methods.'

She said Green told her an organic farmer would therefore not lose the ability to market his or her crops.

'You have to believe him,' she said, though she admitted that 'things can exchange' when it comes to GMO and non-GMO crops of the same plant. But if pollination is 'by accident,' Lemaux said the product could still be sold.

But a signed declaration by Thurston Williams, an organic inspector for California Certified Organic Farmers and certification committee chairperson for the Mendocino-Lake Chapter of CCOF, said that in the event he 'became aware of contamination' of organic crops by GMOs he would take samples and order laboratory tests and, if the tests showed contamination, Williams said he 'would recommend to CCOF that the perennial crop be decertified.'"

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