Aiding in the Coexistence of Sustainable and Biotech Agriculture by Minimizing Contamination

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $99,978.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $26,000.00
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Bradley Brummond
North Dakota State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: canola, corn, soybeans, wheat


  • Education and Training: general education and training
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning


    Best management practices have been published in NDSU Extension Publication A-1275. Outreach meetings surrounding the best management practices for coexistence have been done. Not all objectives were met, due to the withdrawal of some of the members of the Coexistence Working Group. The greatest impact this project has had is it is being used as a starting point by other groups and states looking at the issue of coexistence and they are building off the work of this grant. The process has started in coexistence and this grant was one of the pioneering efforts.


    North Dakota leads the nation in the production of certified organic cereals grains. There is also widespread production of IP and transgenic crops. The IP industry has built in tolerance levels for the presence of transgenic organisms. There are no tolerance levels in the organic industry. The major concern is how the organic, IP, and biotech industries can coexist without compromising the marketability and integrity of germplasm and seedstocks. It is also of economic value for transgenic producers to maintain the genetic integrity of their crops to realize the full benefits of the technology. As more transgenic crops are developed, best management practices (BMPs) for minimizing unwanted contamination are critical to sustaining the natural resource base and the economic viability of organic, IP and transgenic producers.

    Project objectives:

    * Awareness of issues; understanding of transgenic effects and impacts of the differing production systems
    * Learn listening /dialogue, conflict resolution, and joint problem solving skills
    * Mutual teaching and learning
    * Goodwill between participants and acknowledge mutual responsibility
    * Develop individual BMPs
    * Keep interested parties informed of findings and proceedings of the Transgenic Working Group
    * BMPs communicated, disseminated, and promoted to working group constituents
    * Develop comprehensive BMPs and curriculum
    * Identify presenters: schedule and promote workshop sites and dates
    * Minimizing contamination risks
    * Participants from regulatory and state institutions agree to apply BMPs with their institutions and departments
    * Disseminate BMPs to end users
    * Implementation of BMPs to insure purity and accessibility of genetic resource base
    * Implementation of BMPs to insure integrity and marketability with the food system
    * Minimize contamination risk
    * Continuation of joint problem solving through the Transgenic Working Group

    1. Awareness of Issues

    The issues surrounding coexistence were identified at the first meeting of the working group and prioritized. The issues were: Liability, Land Grant Funding, Handling and Segregation, Tolerances, Germplasm Purity, Certification Standards, USDA Rules for Organic Certification and Regulations, Opportunities and Consequences, Neighbor Relations, Controls on Research, Consumer Concerns, Traits and Requirements for process and principles to commercialize. Three of these issues were handled by presentations and providing information to the group. They were Traits, Requirements for commercialization and USDA Rules and Organic Certification. (Status: Accomplished)

    2. Learn Listening/Dialogue, Conflict Resolution and Joint Problem Solving

    The working group was split into three subcommittees to work on the issues. The subcommittees consisted of members from the different groups represented in the working group. All three groups successfully gathered information and came up with recommended BMPs. All members of the group had to work together to write the BMPS. (Status: Group members withdrew so it is impossible to evaluate this. I feel from conversations I have had, they did learn a few things from one another.)

    Ground Rules were written for personal conduct at the meetings and on the group website. The rules were followed and respectful dialogue between opposing ideas were successfully conducted at every meeting. (Status: Accomplished)

    A private website was set up to propose BMPs and hold discussion on them. This was not as successful as we would have liked as very few group members actually used it. (Status: Accomplished)

    Thirteen BMPs were passed and written (Status: Accomplished)

    3. Mutual Teaching and Learning

    All members through participation in the discussion have working knowledge of the concerns of the other parties. (Status: Group members withdrew so it is impossible to evaluate this.)

    4. Goodwill Between Participants

    Group members were able to work successfully together at the meetings and in their subgroups.
    We had 5 members withdraw from the coexistence working group. There originally was some animosity between those who stayed and those who left. Relationships are being rebuilt by some. (Status: Due to the withdrawal I was not able to get a good set of data on this.)

    5. Develop Individual BMPs

    Eleven BMPs were reached by large majorities and 2 were split decisions. Development of the BMPs ceased when the members withdrew. The only thing done was to write and print passed BMPs. (Status: completed)

    6. Keep Interested Parties Informed of Findings and Proceedings (Status Accomplished)

    The final form of the BMPs was posted on the website. No comments were forthcoming.

    The project has been discussed with various groups around the state, nation and internationally. Minutes and information have been supplied on request. Two presentations were made at the National Association of County Agriculture Agents conference. One of the presentations was made on the Best Management Practices itself and one presentation was made on the process used. Both presentations were well received with approximately 30 to 40 agents attended each session. I had many favorable comments on both presentations. We have also cooperated with information to states that are trying to do similar things, Vermont, Hawaii and California. We are currently working quite closely with Hawaii as they try a similar program with their producers. They have looked at much of the material we have produced and I have participated on a conference call with them. We will continue to work with these groups and share back and forth. This is where I think the real value of this grant is, to help others build on our efforts. (Status: Accomplished)

    7. BMPS Communicated, Disseminated, and Promoted To Working Group Constituents (Status: Completed)

    Five working group members failed to turn in any constituent feedback forms on issues.
    We had a 23% return rate on constituent feedback forms on issues. Over 200 comments on issues and suggestions for BMPs only 2 suggested BMPs were not considered reasonable suggestions. Outreach was done in the winter of 2005.

    8. Develop Comprehensive BMPs and Curriculum (Status: Accomplished)

    BMPs have been written and published: NDSU Extension Publication A-1275 Suggested Best Management Practices for the Coexistence of Organic, Biotech, and Conventional Production Systems.

    9. Identify Presenters: Schedule and Promote Workshop Site and Dates (Status: Accomplished)

    Brad Brummond, grant coordinator, made presentations in February of 2005 to North Dakota conventional producers, biotech producers, consumers, industry and Extension. The presentation focused around the BMPs. The sites were Devils Lake, Scranton, Richardton, Regent and LaMoure.

    10. Minimizing Contamination Risks (Status: Not Accomplished)

    It is impossible to measure with the withdrawal of the group. I do no see a lot change in this. I do think that the BMPs would help if followed.

    11. Participants from regulatory and state institutions agree to apply the BMPs in their institutions and departments. (Status: Completed. No passed BMPs lend themselves to this.)

    12. Disseminate BMPs to end users (Status: accomplished)

    BMPs have been disseminated to growers throughout the state of North Dakota through the outreach meetings conducted in Devils Lake, Scranton, Richardton, Regent and Lamoure, along with all presentations done prior to this.

    13. Implementatation of BMPs To Insure Purity and Accessibility of Genetic Resource Base (Status: Completed. BMPs were passed that address segregation of genetic material and crops. NDSU Plant Science, Foundation Seedstock Project and State Seed Department have protocols and policies in place that address these BMPs.)

    14. Implementation of BMPs To Insure Integrity and Marketability With the Food System

    (Status: Partially completed. BMPs were passed that address tolerances and consumer concerns. The implementation has already been done at the University and State Seed Department as they have protocols and policies in place that address their BMPs.)

    15. Continuation of Joint Problem Solving Through the Transgenic Working Group

    (Status: It is impossible to complete due to the withdrawal of the 5 members from the original group. I intend to use the group members and former group members as a sounding board for future issues but there is no chance to bring the former group back together.)

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.