A food summit that hoped to achieve some common ground in the polarizing issue of organic and GMO crops only generated more differences. However, what came out clearly is that money is being lost by both factions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) convened the food summit in Raleigh, N.C.
According to GMO proponents, genetically modified crops are important to feeding the expanding global population. However, that view is challenged by organic farmers and food companies on the basis that it promotes a farming approach that could cause untold health problems to humans. Some of the names supporting GMO that participated in the food summit included Syngenta AG (ADR) (NYSE:SYT) and Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON). Organic companies represented at the summit included Whole Foods Markets, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM).
Coexistence of Organic and GMO
With the differences clearly defined as ever, the USDA summit sought to discuss the coexistence of Organic and GMO farming and food production. According to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, he is really tired about division in the matter of GMO versus Organic foods. Vilsack said the summit was about trying to find a path forward.
A lot of money being lost
However, finding that path seemed more challenging than the organizers of the summit may have anticipated. First, there was no sign of compromise from both factions. Additionally, there seemed to be more barriers to the “coexistence” of GMO and Organic food production. For example, organic farmers have been investing thousands of dollars to create buffer zones to guard their fields against possible spread of GMO crop pollens from the biotech neighbors’ farms. Organic farmers are also spending money on systems to ensure that their harvested crops don’t mix with the GMO varieties.
Both factions are also spending a lot of money in legislation lobbying regarding labeling of Organic and GMO foods. While some are calling for labeling of GMO foods, other think labeling of Organic foods is a better approach.
The encroachment of GMO has meant the organic food companies such as Whole Food Markets must import some crops to supplement their need.