The Q&A Archives: Genetically Altered Fertilizer

Question: I appreciated the article, "natural fuels," in the March/April issue of National Gardening. Having recently moved to the Midwest from the Southwest, I used the article for ideas on possible organic fertilzers that might be available locally, and perhaps at a lower cost. Two that jumped out at me were corn gluten and soybean meal, since corn and soybeans are about all that is grown around here. But I also know that many of the local farmers use genetically altered varieties. Now, I realize that there is considerable debate taking place at this time regarding standards for the organic agriculture community, but can (or should) products like corn gluten or soybean meal be considered for use by organic growers when the likelihood of genetically altered contents is so high (as well as undetectable)?

Answer: That's a question that, at least to me, has no clear, easy answer. With more and more genetically engineered crop plants becoming available, and the amazing array of ingredients found in many foods--especially packaged "convenience" foods--it seems likely that if genetically engineered plant material isn't already in many of our common foods, it soon will be. Only strict, and strictly enforced, food labeling laws will help here, I think.

Have you voiced your concerns about the proposed federal organic standards? If not, I urge you to make your voice heard, as lawmakers continue to work on this very important issue. If enough of us speak out, we may be able to maintain high safety standards--at least for products labelled "organic".

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