rocketrichie
Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:34 am

Pollen Drift

need some help here if someone knows about gmo cross-pollination and Pollen Drift ,looking to grow some organic food and want to avoid gmo Pollen Drift into my crops live on 2 1/2 acers and the property is surrounded by corn fields in the united states .want to avoid cross contamination going to grow the plants in a green house to avoid contamination .how significant is is gmo cross contamination is that unhealthy if you eat the vegetable that s cross contaminated .what could I do to prevent cross contamination?
thank you

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27743
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Pollen Drift

I'm not sure what you are concerned about if you are not growing corn yourself -- not likely in a greenhouse, I'm thinking.

GMO corn pollen would only affect corn in silk. Otherwise, you might wash off the dusty corn pollen so as not to ingest them, but I don't think they can "contaminate" in any other way? Surrounded as you are, I wonder if you are more likely to breathe in the pollen...? How do you/could you avoid it?
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11261
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Pollen Drift

600 ft is the distance for cross pollination between corn varieties. GMO is not harmful, it has been around since the 60's and unless you only eat organic bread, cereals, soups, pasta, soybeans, oils, and corn and only eat certified organic meat, you probably have been eating it for years.

The GMO corn have been engineered to be Round Up ready. It was created to make it easier for the farmers to get rid of weeds in their fields without killing their crop. The gene does not affect anything else. The process that Round Up interrupts is an enzyme in the phosphorus cycle that is only present in plants. That is why Round Up has low toxicity for animals. It has been researched and tested for years. It does not cause cancer and is not any more likely to cause birth defects as anything else. The organic claim that organic foods are more nutritious have also been debunked. The American pediatric association said that organic is not contain any more nutrients than conventional foods. What was more important was that children have a variety of different foods for good nutrition and not whether they were organic or not. The FDA tests produce being sold and even the conventional foods usually test well within safe levels as long as the pesticides are used as directed and the waiting period between pesticide application and harvest is observed. As far as I know, the tests are only for conventional pesticides. I don't know if anyone tests organic produce for organic pesticide residues. Organic pesticides are not non-toxic. Some have been taken off the market like nicotine and rotenone because they can actually harm humans. Organic produce is probably sprayed more often because the pesticides they are allowed to use don't last very long and your choice in varieties will be limited since they have a limited number of organic varieties available and they have to choose cultivars which are more naturally resilient and not for flavor.

I think everyone should have the right to choose whether they want to only eat organic or not but corn is corn they all have genes, different cultivars will have different genes. Genes are components in every living thing and is nothing to be feared.
https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/b ... debate-ove
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Pollen Drift

Growing your plants in a greenhouse to avoid pollen contamination seems a bit over the top and as noted corn is not a plant that does well in greenhouses (it is wind pollinated so you would have to have serious fans moving the air). And they are big plants. To have enough room to grow any significant amount of corn, you would have to have a very large, expensive greenhouse.

Because when we eat corn we are eating the seeds of the plant, it can be affected by cross pollination. (Squash for example we don't typically eat the seeds. So if it gets cross-pollinated by another variety, only the seeds are affected, which only makes a difference if you save those seeds and plant them the next year). So yes, if your corn was exposed to the GMO pollen at just the right time when it is in silk, it could become GMO corn.

The ways to prevent this include the 600 ft spacing, having a windbreak between your property and the GMO corn fields, growing a different variety that matures at a different time, so it is not in silk when the GMO corn is pollinating, or changing the planting time to do the same thing.

I agree that the GMO corn, even if yours did get cross pollinated is not dangerous. As imafan noted the point of the modification is to make the corn resistant to RoundUp, so they can spray the fields with RoundUp to keep weeds down, without killing the corn. So the RoundUp is the problem, not the corn. I am not so sanguine as imafan about the safety of all that RoundUp, for us and definitely not for the environment. This thread https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 11&t=57653 has a lot of the information I collected on effects of RoundUp and other poisons. So what you should be concerned about is not whether some of the GMO pollen gets on your corn. Even if it does and even if you eat it, it will make no difference and have NO effect on you. What you should worry about more is whether the RoundUp they are spraying drifts onto your property.

Whether or not you put poisons on your food does not change their nutritional make up. What does change the nutritional make up of the crops is the amount of nutrients in the soil, it's richness.
Studies show that crops grown in the past were actually healthier than crops grown today. Modern agricultural methods have depleted nutrients from the soil which results in less nutritious fruits, vegetables and grains.
Researchers from the University of Texas in Austin examined data from 1950 and 1999 for 43 varieties of fruits and vegetables. They found "reliable declines" in amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin and vitamin C over the nearly 50-year time period. The team attributed the results to modern agricultural methods intended to enhance crop size, rate of growth and resistance to pests and disease.


According to the Organic Consumers' Association, many other studies report similar results. An analysis by the Kushi Institute looked at nutritional data in 12 fresh vegetables from 1975 to 1997 and found that calcium levels were reduced by 27%, and iron was lowered by 37%. In addition, levels of vitamin A fell by 21% and vitamin C was reduced by 30%.

Another study found that the amount of vitamin A our grandparents would have gotten from one orange equals the amount found in eight oranges today!
https://www.ivlproducts.com/Health-Libra ... Nutrients/

If you want to get deeper into the subject, this https://grist.org/article/2009-08-13-deb ... nutrition/ is a very nice article, a debate between two reputable scientists about whether/ how much organic crops are healthier than chemically raised ones. Again the debate centers not on the poisons, but on the soil quality.

In general, organic farming focuses a lot more on building the quality of the soil. But that is something I can do much more intensively in my 500 sq ft of veggie gardens than a farmer with hundreds of acres can, even if they are organic growers.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11261
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Pollen Drift

This is true. I avoided Round up and tried to deal with the weeds by digging them out and I actually am using the round up mainly on the pathways and not in the garden. There is drift though and that may concern you. Round up works on an enzyme that is found only in plants and not in animals. It basically interferes with the plants' ability to get energy and that basically starves cells and the plants dies. Since animals do not require this enzyme, they are not affected.
Glyphosate is quickly broken down by soil organisms once it hits the soil and has no effect on ungerminated seeds. It is why most things can be planted a short time later. It does not affect the soil microbes or higher animals. Glyphosate is a chelating agent and can cause phosphorus binding in the soil. This may concern some people. Here phosphorus binding in oxisols is already high because of the amount of aluminum and iron that is present, so it is commonly recommended to use a high phosphorus fertilizer to compensate.

I test my soil every few years to see if I need to make adjustments. My phosphorus was off the scale 6 years ago. I have actually used only sulfate of ammonia and compost for serveral years now. I probably can go a couple of years more before any of my plots will need additional phosphorus. I did have to adjust for pH this year. I only use a complete fertilizer for my potted plants and I use mostly low numbers. The compost still has phosphorus but there is not a large amount and organic inputs are hard to get in a purer form.

Rainbow is right the real issue is what gets in or on your plants and the quality of the environment they are growing in. I have actually done my research and talked to people who use the product all the time and my friend happens to be a chemist who actually works with herbicides all the time and I asked him what was the best way to handle the weeds and he told me herbicides were probably the only way to get ahead of some of the very invasive weeds I have to deal with. He even suggested that some may need triclopyr which I have so far stayed away from since it persists much longer than glyphosate. He was the one who told me how glyphosate works, how to get the best out of it and I asked him specifically about toxicity and persistence. He said most of the glyphosate will be bound in the plant tissues or to the soil by the soil organisms. He even said it would be safe to compost, but I am throwing all my treated waste away (to H-Power) and they are not going in the recycling bin. He said that it is safe to plant most things within days of using Round Up.

Genetics are important too. Genetics is what makes one variety different from another. Genetics have been manipulated by man since the beginning of agriculture, to get plants get cultivars that had had the traits that humans wanted. In the past, people just crossed the best plants that they had in hopes of getting something better. GMO just scientifically finds the genes with the traits they want and bypasses the ones they don't and can develop a new strain in a much shorter time.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

ButterflyLady29
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1031
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:12 am
Location: central Ohio

Re: Pollen Drift

Dangerous or not, GMO Round-up ready is not organic. And it is illegal to save seeds from cross-pollinated GMO corn. So cross contamination is a very valid concern when a person wishes to save their own seed and wishes to have an organic or organic certified crop. Several studies and tests have shown corn pollen can blow much further than the recommended 600 foot separation distance. Cross contamination also is a very valid concern when a person who's property is surrounded by field corn wishes to grow sweet corn. Crossed sweet/field corn is awful. The kernels are hard and pretty tasteless.

But you really cannot grow corn in a greenhouse. Even a hoop house won't be sufficient for growing corn. So how do you avoid cross-contamination? It's actually pretty simple. The answer is printed right on your seed package. You'll see a "days to harvest" spot somewhere on the package or in your catalog information. It also helps to know that corn silks shed pollen for approximately 14 days. And sweet corn doesn't sprout as well in cold soil as your typical Round-up ready field corn. So watch when your neighbors plant their field corn and wait 2 weeks to a month or longer before planting your sweet corn. Fresh sweet corn in late August is a real treat.

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11261
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Pollen Drift

That's right. Planting varieties at least two weeks apart from their maturity is a good way to prevent cross pollination. Although pollen can drift, most corn pollen is relatively heavy and most of it falls down, a greater distance helps too. The seed companies here bag their corn tassels and ears and hand pollinate them to ensure that their corn breeds true. There is very little opportunity for drift with the inclusion of the distance requirement. They also grow winter corn so they usually don't grow corn at the same time that the local farmers do so they have minimized drift and cross pollination.

You could do something similar and bag your tassels and ears and hand pollinate them to lessen the chance of drift contamination.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Return to “Organic Gardening Forum”