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Title page for ETD etd-12222006-114022


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Hubbard, Kristina Joy
Author's Email Address kristina.hubbard@gmail.com
URN etd-12222006-114022
Title Protecting the Integrity of Organic Food in the Face of Genetic Engineering: The Case of Roundup Ready Alfalfa
Degree Master of Science
Department Environmental Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Neva Hassanein Committee Chair
Dane Scott Committee Member
John Horwich Committee Member
Keywords
  • genetic engineering
  • genetically modified foods
  • GMO
  • roundup ready alfalfa
  • agricultural biotechnology
  • agricultural policy
  • national organic program
Date of Defense 2006-12-01
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Genetically engineered (GE) seeds are central to the debates around agricultural biotechnology, and continue to be rapidly adopted across the globe. At the same time that GE crops increase in acreage, the organic market has become one of the fastest growing sectors of the American food industry. While biotechnology companies claim there is a successful “coexistence” of GE crop technologies and organic crops, many organic producers are already challenged by keeping unwanted GE traits out of their fields. Still,

little attention has been given to the role of regulations in the face of organic

contamination by genetically engineered material. This paper looks at the National Organic Program (NOP) and Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology, and analyzes whether they are adequate for protecting the integrity of organic food in the face of genetic engineering, using a relatively new GE crop, Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa, as a case study. Alfalfa is an essential component to the organic livestock industry, especially to organic dairy, where the demand has grown faster than the supply. This paper reveals that the organic alfalfa industry is at risk of contamination by RR alfalfa, and that part of the risk can be attributed to the inadequacy of the two regulatory frameworks, as both do not go far enough to keep GE crops contained and the integrity of organic products protected. These findings resulted from an extensive review of the pertinent laws and regulations, a review of the U.S.’s experience with GE crop technology, and research into the potential implications of introducing RR alfalfa. Recommendations include making changes to the two frameworks’ approach to regulation, including: making improvements to the regulation of GE crops both before and after they enter the marketplace; encouraging discussion within the organic industry about current threats to the integrity of organic, and the pros and cons of establishing a tolerance level and testing system; and taking a precautionary approach to RR alfalfa by performing a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and pulling it from the market until all risks are addressed.

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