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GMO Contamination

The GM Contamination Register lists hundreds of incidents in which GMOs contaminated natural foods, seeds, farmers’ fields, and other areas. (Also see background on risks from contamination by GMO drug crops in the “pharming” section).

A 2004 Union of Concerned Scientists paper, Gone to Seed, finds that natural varieties of seeds for major crops that have GMO varieties are “are pervasively contaminated” by the GMO varieties. In testing by an independent lab, the watchdog group found that 50% of the natural corn and soybean seed varieties tested and 100% of the natural canola seed varieties were contaminated by GMOs. The scientists also warned that since most genes used in GMO crops “are new to foods and some are not intended for use in foods at all,” there are serious concerns of contamination of the food supply by risky, untested non-food GMOs.

A 2006 Center for Food Safety chronology of GMO contamination episodes outlines just a few of hundreds of incidents that harmed farmers, food producers, and others.

In the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, a University of California scientist argues that GMOs will inevitably contaminate organic and sustainable farms, and that “coexistence” with GMOs is therefore “a myth.”

A study finds a GMO crop persists in the field for ten years. Commenting on the study, Nature News notes that the findings raise questions about the ability to keep GMOs (including those engineered to produce untested drugs and other non-food substances) from contaminating natural foods.

A brief outline describes just a few of the ways GMO grain can contaminate other crops.

A 2012 Greenpeace paper on contamination (and other) risks from GMO experimental field trials.

The StarLink Contamination Episode

A September 2000 letter from the GE Food Alert Coalition to the FDA  outlines the regulatory ackground and calls for agency action.

A group of Iowa State University scientists outline the background and fallout from StarLink, an unapproved GMO corn that was discovered in mid-2000 to have massively contaminated the U.S. food supply.

A PhD thesis outlines the StarLink situation, including a month-by-month chronology of events (chapters two thru 12, pp. 41-355) from the announcement of the contamination in September 200o through July 2001.

A Greenpeace chronology, through March 2001.

In June 2002, StarLink contamination is found in food aid sent to Bolivia.

Mexican Corn Contamination

Ignacio Chapela and David Quist, Transgenic DNA introgressed into traditionalmaize landraces in Oaxaca, Mexico, Nature, Nov 2001.

Ignacio Chapela’s letter in response to Nature’s retraction.

GRAIN interview with David Quist.

A 2009 study confirms the findings of GMO contamination in Mexican corn.

Science Compromised, by three University of California scientists.

Immoral Maize, an account of the events around the publication of the Nature article.

ETC Group on the Fight Over Mexico’s GM Maize Contamination.

WorldWatch Institute on Rogue Corn on the Loose.

Bayer Rice Contamination

A few articles from August 2006, after news of the contamination of US rice supplies by unapproved Bayer GMO varieties is announced.

After banning U.S. rice imports, Europeans learn that Bayer and US authorities knew of the contamination for months but did not notify export partners (more on the cover-up).

Once news of the contamination came out, Bayer blamed farmers and “an act of god” for their uncontrolled GMOs.

A detailed December 2006 analysis of the rice contamination incident, and a brief case study.

An Arkansas farmer wins a $1 million verdict against Bayer (including $500,000 in punitive damages for what the jury found was “conduct with malice or in reckless disregard of the consequences,” and “intentionally pursu(ing) a course of conduct for the purpose of causing damage.”

In March 2011, a jury orders Bayer to pay $136.8 million to Riceland Foods, the major rice processor impacted by the GMO rice contamination.

In 2011, Bayer settles claims with rice farmers in 5 states for $750 million.


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