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Agricultural News

Genetically Modified and Organic Crop Farmers Can Coexist- Lets Be Good Neighbors

Thu, 30 Aug 2012 17:46:22 CDT

Genetically Modified and Organic Crop Farmers Can Coexist- Lets Be Good Neighbors The Advisory Committee on 21st Century Biotechnology in Agriculture (AC21 for short) is getting close to a final report to US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Oklahoma wheat producer Keith Kisling of Burlington has represented the wheat industry on this Advisory group, which was called together by the Secretary in an effort to discover whether natural and organic crop producers deserved compensation (and how it could be delivered) from producers using genetically modified crops that might contaminate open pollinated plants.

Kisling said that he did represent the wheat industry, which at this time has no genetically modified varieties, but as Kisling told us- "we know it's coming and we know it's going to happen eventually, maybe sooner rather than later- I dont' know, but they say in the next ten years" that the wheat industry will have a "GE" release of wheat- "GE" standing for genetically enhanced. He felt his role on the Committee was to reviwe what other crops that have well established GE releases are doing in trying to make sure traditional and organic crops are not being damaged by the GE plant materials.

Kisling tells Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays that the group has met five times- and is now at the point of finalizing a draft report- that should find its way to Secretary Vilsack between Thanksgiving and Christmas of this year.

Some of the key points that has evolved out of these meetings of this advisory group include the following five key points:

(1) 1. AC21 has made good progress to identify solutions to improve coexistence.

(2) 2. We’re pleased AC21 has acknowledged that biotechnology does not create risks that are new to agriculture and that, while adoption of biotechnology has facilitated a greater diversity in American agriculture, coexistence is not about safety or health. Rather, it is about finding ways for different production methods and consumer preferences to work together to facilitate greater diversity in American agriculture.

(3) 3. After thoughtful discussions and listening to a range of views, there is no available evidence to justify establishing a costly compensation program for producers of identity preserved crops. The development of data regarding actual economic impact to these producers is critical to ensuring a compensation mechanism is appropriate.

(4) 4. If data show a problem exists, as supporters of creating better tools for risk management, and in the spirit of compromise, it is appropriate to recommend the Secretary consider a crop insurance program using a pilot program to test its feasibility.

(5) 5. Additional recommendations by AC21 could potentially benefit all of American agriculture by emphasizing proactive outreach, education, research, and good neighborly practices.

It'sIIt's that last phrase that Kisling came back to several times as he talked with Hays about the work done thus far. Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear their conversation to learn more about what farmers who got together on this Committee have decided- no heavy hand of regulation or forced compensation- but rather- let's work at being good neighbors.


Ron Hays talks with Keith Kisling about the AC21 Committee on Biotech in Ag
right-click to download mp3


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