Organic GMOs?


Dan Murphy, Opinion, FarmJournal's Pork

November 29, 2019


Could genetically modified crops become a thing one day soon? Don’t dismiss the possibility, as newer gene editing techniques now parallel ‘natural’ crop mutations that increase productivity.


Most consumers believe they understand what they’re getting when they choose organic foods or other products.


The assumption is that organically grown crops don’t use synthetic fertilizers, haven’t been treated with chemical pesticides or herbicides and have been raised by farm families with halos firmly affixed to their hardworking heads.


That’s fine for the organic industry’s marketing messages, but one challenge that continues to confront organic growers is productivity. Setting aside the debate over long-term eco-impacts of conventional farming — not that such objectivity is even possible — the use of supplemental fertilizers, combined with cultivation of crop varieties resistant to biothreats gives farmers not bound by USDA’s organic strictures something of an advantage.


Indeed, opposition to GMOs is one of the lynchpins of the organic movement, being widely touted by everyone from the Organic Consumers Association to the National Organic Standards Board to the European Court of Justice. Genetic modification using recombinant DNA technology, which introduces genes from one species into a different is simply not “natural,” those organizations have argued.


End of story, right?


Not so fast.


A newer, ‘natural’ technique


Say hello to CRISPr, a newer, simpler, cheaper and some would contend entirely natural was of conducting gene editing. Given the possibility of this new technology, even organic farmers might be able to use its revolutionary methodology to “enhance” the crops they’re currently cultivating...