Genetically engineered crops, or genetically modified organisms (GMO), now dominate commodity crop production in the United States. In 2014, GMO varieties made up 93 percent of corn acres, 94 percent of soybean acres and 96 percent of cotton acres planted in the country. With the rise of GMO crops, coexistence between organic, non-GMO and GMO production has become more difficult due to the potential for gene flow and commingling of crops at both the planting and harvesting levels.
In official government jargon, this mixing is referred to as “adventitious presence,” but what it means is that GMO crops can contaminate non-GMO and organic crops through cross-pollination on the field or through seed or grain mixing after harvest. Not only does GMO contamination affect seed purity, but it also has serious ramifications for organic and non-GMO farmers that face economic harm due to lost markets or decreased crop values.