Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2011 10:00 AM
Steve Brown/Capital Press
Shannon Carmody helps set up a display table for the Seed Savers Exchange during the Organicology conference.
Organic leader says increased reliance on monocultures causes disease, high costs
By STEVE BROWN
PORTLAND -- Agriculture developed around the concept of saving seeds. Andrew Kimbrell, from the Center for Food Safety, said the idea of patenting seeds developed around the concept of making money.
"GMOs are going to be the biggest failure in modern agriculture," Kimbrell said about genetically modified seeds during the Organicology conference here. "They are a misguided experiment."
Biotech seeds are not increasing yields or nutrition, he said, the exact opposite of what organic growers are doing.
"Instead of selecting seeds for resiliency and robustness, companies purposely create seed that loses its efficacy after one year," he said. When seeds become a commodity, that leads to a monoculture crop, disease and infestation, more chemical use and eventually soil destruction.
The "genetic-industrial complex" feeds myths through the media, he said. Biotech manufacturers especially target the organic community's focus on overall soil health.
"But it's not about organics versus biotech," he said. "It's about conventional farmers losing their export markets because their crops are contaminated. Biotech is not an added tool, but a tool that takes over all the other tools in the toolbox. ...
"When a crop is rejected because of contamination, there's no one to sue," Kimbrell said. He called for a federal farmer protection act, which would establish liability so farmers suffering economic losses from contamination by genetically modified material can recoup their losses from the manufacturer of that material.
One outcome of the rise of biotech crops is the parallel rise of herbicide-resistant weeds, he said. "Superweeds challenge all of agriculture. On this issue we can form a coalition with conventional growers -- they're taking it on the chin more than organic."