In reaction on the current rise in food prices and the crises in many developing countries following from that, some scientists claim that genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) combined with Organic Agriculture would be the best way to grow food for a rising population.
The organic agricultural movement and the standards and regulations on Organic Agriculture clearly reject genetic engineering as it is not compatible with its principles.
Organic and GMO agriculture are based on different values and a different attitude towards nature. The current environmental crisis, leading to desertification, biodiversity loss and climate change, has shown that a controlling attitude of humans toward nature is counterproductive. Gene technology is not a value free technology but is an expression of a world view in which nature can and should be ruled and manipulated as much as possible to keep agriculture manageable in industrialized agriculture. In contrast, Organic Agriculture departs from a different attitude towards nature and aims at cooperating with nature in an ecological way supporting self regulation and biodiversity within the agro-ecosystem of a farm. In this way natural resources, the very base of agriculture can be sustainably maintained instead of getting destroyed and diminished.
The reasons why the organic sector rejects genetic engineering are not limited to the risk associated with its products, but also include concerns about the process itself. The current structure and products of the genetic engineering sector do not serve smallholders or the Organic Principles and humanities greatest needs. They serve mainly the interest of multinational corporations.
The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), which was recently concluded in Johannesburg, clearly calls for an overhaul of the farming system and points towards organic and other low input systems, that use adjusted traditional and indigenous knowledge. Gerald A. Herrmann, IFOAM president states: ‘GMO, made for large scale mono cultures, is just another expression of the same thinking that brought humanity in the current crisis. Organic Agriculture will not accept techniques and traits that deprive humanity from its very basis: agro-biodiversity’.