MadSci Network: Genetics

Re: Can food be geneticly engineerd and be organic

Date: Wed Aug 27 01:22:19 2003
Posted By: Jeremy Cherfas, Staff, Public Awareness, IPGRI (International Plant Genetic Resources Institute)
Area of science: Genetics
ID: 1060894886.Ge

Dear Taylor

Thanks for your question. Sorry to have taken so long to reply but I was 
on holiday.

In almost all countries there are rules for what can and cannot be 
called "organic". Every one that I know of says clearly that if a plant or 
animal is genetically engineered then it cannot be called organic under 
any circumstances.

There is a slightly gray area, because some plants, like sweetcorn, may be 
accidentally pollinated by pollen from genetically engineered corn growing 
nearby, even though they are not themselves genetically engineered. In 
that case, the seeds of the sweetcorn, which is what we eat, might contain 
DNA from a genetically engineered parent. The rules are not too clear on 
this in most countries, and organic farmers need to make sure that there 
are no genetically engineered crops growing near them.

I hope that helps.


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