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OCA sets guidelines to prevent GMO contamination in organic cotton

May '21
Pic: OCA
Pic: OCA
The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) has released the Non-GM Cottonseed Production Guidelines to safeguard the integrity of the entire Indian organic cotton value chain from seed to shirt. These guidelines aim to create a standardised industry approach for the production of non-genetically engineered (non-GM) seed marketed to organic cotton growers.

Led by OCA, these guidelines have been developed in consultation with sector experts and via field pilots at three Indian seed producers. They are now made available to producers of non-GM cottonseed who want to implement solid practices to monitor and prevent GMO presence along their seed supply chain, OCA said in a press release.

The guidelines are set to help the growing number of Indian organic smallholder farmers by increasing their access to non-GM seed and strengthening the integrity of organic cotton produce for brands and retailers.

The market demand for organic cotton is growing. As the seed forms the starting point of the cotton value chain, to meet such demand there is a need to secure the availability of reliable non-GM seed, an essential requirement in organic farming. Organic regulations guarantee that organic producers take far-reaching steps to avoid GMO contamination from farmers, to spinners, to brands.

However, in countries where GM cotton dominates the market – like India, accidental GMO contamination at seed level may incur, making it challenging to secure the basic characteristics of the seed required by organic farming regulations and jeopardising the integrity of the broader organic cotton sector, the release said.

Responding to this critical need of the sector, OCA, through its Seed and Innovation Programme, is focused on improving non-GM cottonseed availability as an essential first step in working towards setting up organic cottonseed value chains. Through the programme, OCA provides the joint largest investment in cotton cultivars suitable for organic agriculture, as well as interventions on GM screening, the creation of a database of organic cotton farm groups and capacity building for farmers and trainers.

By developing the Non-GM Cottonseed Production Guidelines, OCA wants to help seed producers monitor and prevent GMO presence in different contexts and countries all over the world, from early breeding stages up to the final production, processing and packaging of planting seed.

"We have already started rolling out the implementation of the guidelines in India, starting with Partech Seeds. By verifying Partech’s compliance to these guidelines using second-party verification audits at the end of 2021, they will be able to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, while their clients will feel more confident to source reliable non-GM seed to grow their organic cotton with,” said OCA's programme officer, Mathilde Tournebize.

OCA will also roll out the Non-GM Seed Assurance Programme by partnering with seed producers and providing capacity building support on a need basis to implement these guidelines.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (KD)

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