Organic farmers can sometimes command a premium for their crops, but they also face many challenges. One is keeping their crop from being contaminated by genetically modified crops. Pollination is vital and necessary, but it also provides a means for contamination to occur.
To protect against this, some farmers plant buffers around their fields. They may also time their planting so that pollination occurs before or after neighboring GMO crops. But Frank Kutka has an additional solution: he’s a plant breeder that has developed a corn variety that rejects “foreign” pollen. With growing demand for organic crops, he and others developing these varieties may be on to something big.
“I think there’s growing interest, but the question is, how well do they work?” said Jim Riddle, who served on the USDA organic standards board and did organic outreach for the University of Minnesota. “And there’s where we need to see more research — especially done by universities, not the companies themselves — to see if they are indeed blocking this foreign pollen.”