Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hope for Testing Organic Food for GMO Contamination

Good News in GMO land: A Tilth representative has told me there are new requirements at the USDA NOP (National Organic Program) which will include residue testing on 5% of organic farmers total operations. This will focus on pesticide testing but will also include GMO testing. They and other organic certifying bodies are currently creating a plan to set this up. I suggest you call your local organic certifying representative and tell them you want to see a focus on GMO testing to make sure it will be as important as pesticide testing. There has been no GMO testing prior to this unless someone suspected contamination of a crop. So this is a big change. However, since Tilth and other agencies are allowed to make GMO testing a part of the pesticide testing but has a choice of including it, I suggest we let them know it is very important to us. 

This testing is not yet underway but here is exactly what I was told in an email from Tilth:

"The requirement is to test 5% of total operations.  Although the focus is mostly on pesticide residues it does allow for certifiers to build their own plans to focus on testing of certain types of crops or certain types of residues.  It also allows for us to do the GMO testing and/or antibiotic testing as well and not exclusively pesticides.

As we work on our plan for 2013 we will be building in GMO testing to that plan, however the testing has to be done by an accredited ISO 17065 laboratory and be a full genetic test. These tests are very expensive, but we will be doing them this year on those high risk crops in high risk areas."

More data from USDA: This testing is to be performed annually. Laboratories performing the testing are to be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2005. Other testing can be performed such as arsenic and other metal contaminants, genetic modified organisms, antibiotics and hormones which would count as part of the 5% of operations testing requirement.  A specific sampling program procedure has been developed. The specific prohibited pesticides are listed in the program documentation. Draft guidance was developed to explain what must happen based on the results of the testing. The reason the USDA AMS NOP published this final rule is because during a review from 2010 to 2011 of organic products for pesticide residues they found 21 out of 571 items sampled to have pesticides levels in excess of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maximum residue limits for the residue of the 
food tested.

To find a list of certifying agencies in your state you can go to these links:

By state   - use to find the agency in your state
By Name - use to find an agency if you know their name


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  2. That is indeed a good news.. Hopefully, the organization will show some favors for organic farmers and for organic food items..


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