• GMO Contamination: A-Maizing! Breeder Working on ‘Organic Ready’ Corn

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    Here’s some of the best news all year for non-GMO supporters. Frank Kutka is working to save our heirloom corn from cross-breeding with genetically modified corn. He’s been diligently at work for over 15 years now developing what he calls “Organic Ready” corn varieties that have the ability to block cross-pollination, thus eliminating Monsanto’s prevalently grown GMO corn from infesting organic farmer’s crops.

    “We need corn that organic farmers can grow without fear of GMO contamination,” says Kutka, who is in the fourth year of a five-year breeding project funded by the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

    Gametophytic Incompatibility

    Kutka faces a huge challenge. Each year US farmers plant GMO corn on millions of acres; 93 percent of this year’s corn crop is GMO. Corn cross-pollinates with other corn plants. Each plant produces millions of pollen grains that are carried by the wind to other corn plants where they pollinate the plant’s silks and produce kernels. The problem is that GMO corn can pass its modified genes or “transgenes” on during cross-pollination.

    Kutka’s research focuses on naturally occurring traits found in popcorns and the ancient grain teosinte that make it difficult for GMO pollen to enter the corn silks, thus preventing cross-pollination. The trait is known as gametophytic incompatibility or Ga1S, and is not a new …

    He is working with another corn breeder, Dave Christensen, to breed the pollen-blocking trait into a Painted Mountain Corn variety that grows in the harsh dry mountainous regions of the West. Another corn breeder, Major Goodman at North Carolina State University, is developing pollen-blocking organic corn varieties for Southern growing regions.

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