In the world of Round Up Ready corn and other genetically modified crops, we’re in dire need of another ‘solution.’ Frank Kutka has been working on ‘Organic Ready’ corn for over 15 years as an all-around answer to biotech’s cancer causing crops.
Kutka is a plant breeder who has been attempting to grow corn that naturally resists GM crop contamination through cross-pollination, thus eliminating Monsanto’s prevalently grown GMO corn from infesting organic farmer’s crops.
Kutka has been searching for traits in the ancient grain teosinte which makes it very unlikely that GM pollen can enter corn silk, thus making cross-pollination nearly impossible. He explains:
“The trait has been known and used for decades. It was first used in popcorn in the 1950s and then in white corn varieties in the 1970s… It greatly reduces the risk of out-crossing.”
Kutka has been searching for this pollen-blocking trait since 2001, when he was a student at Cornell University. If he is successful, then it will make the job of organic farmers much easier, since many of them face contamination of crops that they work very hard to keep organic, paying exorbitant fees to obtain a USDA organic label.
Needless to say, Kutka, like all farmers growing organic crops, faces an enormous challenge. U.S. farmers currently plant millions of acres of GMO corn, among other GMO crops. Around 93% of the year’s corn crop was genetically modified.
While this makes Monsanto happy, it leaves those looking for non-contaminated, heirloom, organic, non-GMO corn a little miffed, to say the least. These millions of acres of corn can also easily contaminate other crops – including those which are not even corn, just because Mother Nature continues to work. GMO genes cross over into other plants, causing them to contain variant DNA like the mother plant. This is many argue that GMO crops must be banned, and that GMO labeling simply isn’t enough.
In 2014, a survey of organic farmers from 17 states, predominantly in the Midwest, shows 67% of farmers planned to delay planting corn so their crops would pollinate later than their neighbors’ GM corn, at an average cost of $16,000. Delaying the growing season is just one expense organic farmers have to contend with in competition with corporate seed monopolies.
Kutka hopes his ‘Organic Ready’ corn will be able to remedy cross-pollination of ‘Roundup Ready’ crops within the year.