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    Organic Mutagenic/Cell Fusion Hybrid Seeds are Genetically Engineered


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    Organic Mutagenic/Cell Fusion Hybrid Seeds are Genetically Engineered  Empty Organic Mutagenic/Cell Fusion Hybrid Seeds are Genetically Engineered

    Post  mudra on Tue Aug 25, 2015 11:43 am

    Organic Mutagenic/Cell Fusion Hybrid Seeds are Genetically Engineered

    It is spring planting time for farms, and, if hybrid seeds are being planted, chances are some might be genetically engineered (GE) and technically genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to a growing movement in organic agriculture.

    High Mowing Organic Seeds, an organic seed company based in Wolcott, VT, bans the sale of hybrid seeds produced by a commonly used industry method called cell fusion to manipulate plant DNA — because the seeds are viewed as GMOs.

    “We do not support or sell cisgenic (within the same plant family) CMS cell fusion seeds as we believe the process is the same as GMO,” says Tom Furber, general manager of the company.

    Other organic seed companies which have similarly adopted a policy of banning cell fusion-created F1 hybrid seeds, because company owners view the process as genetic engineering, are challenging the current USDA National Organic Program which permits cisgenic cell fusion hybrid seed in organic production.

    “We’ve been committed to non-GMO and organic since our inception and always will be. We need to educate the market regardless of a USDA classification,” Furber says.

    In organic farming, transgenic (between different biological families) GE is banned, but cisgenic (within the same species family) GE used in the cell fusion process is permitted under USDA organic regulations.

    By international organic certification standards, cell fusion is classified as genetic engineering, but these standards established by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) are being ignored by the United States, Europe and other countries.

    In April 2014, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), representing more than 850,000 members, including several thousand businesses in the natural foods and organic marketplace, launched a consumer campaign to ban cell fusion mutagenesis in the USDA NOP organic production standards.

    “Like genetic engineering, mutagenesis can cause dramatic shifts in genetically determined traits, producing unknown toxins or allergens. ‘Wheat Belly’ author Dr. William Davis blames mutagenesis, which is used to produce modern wheat — including organically grown wheat — for increases in wheat allergies and intolerances,” states the OCA.

    Cisgenic cell fusion is a biotechnical process of mutagenesis whereby the nucleus is removed from a plant cell and replaced with a nucleus from a different plant within the same botanical family. Chemicals and radiation are used in the process to created a hybrid plant with mixed genetics containing the mitochondrial and chloroplast DNA from one cell and the nuclear DNA from a different one.

    Cell fusion is also called protoplast or somantic fusion and can involve a mutant gene with the purpose of creating cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS), which allows classified F1 hybrids to avoid inbreeding. It also prevents the seed from recreating the variety because it results in sterile or no pollen.

    While natural CMS plant lines do occur, it is rare, so cell fusion is used to transfer a single wild mutant CMS gene on a mass scale from one species to another cisgenically — as in a radish to cabbage or sunflower to chicory.

    “Cell-fusion is a controversial topic and IFOAM would like to ban it from organics completely, as they consider it a form of GM. But many of us in the organic community know that that would seriously compromise the ability of organic farmers to grow commercial crops of several brassicas,” says John Navazio, senior scientist with the Organic Seed Alliance and a Washington State University Extension Specialist in Organic Seed.

    “Several of the large production research seed companies that produce organic seed are not talking when asked which of their hybrids are produced using cell fusion-mediated CMS. By the way, there is also ‘naturally occurring CMS,’ which we have used in hybrid carrots, onions, and beets for many years and SHOULD NOT be included in this debate,” Navazio says.

    Not all F1 hybrids are developed using CMS GE cell fusion.

    In the world of seed breeding, there are open-pollinated, hybrid, heirloom, transgenic GMOs and cisgenic GE mutagenic seeds.

    Open-Pollinated (OP) varieties, grown in isolation from cross-pollinating with different same species, are designed to produce seed offspring very similar to the original parent population. OP seeds will grow “true to type” generation after generation.

    Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated produced and handed down by seed savers for at least 60 years.

    Hybrids in general are the first generation of offspring plants created by a cross of two genetically different parent varieties, usually from the same species. Seeds from the second generation will not grow “true to type,” so the buyer has to return for each planting of that crop.

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