OCA sets new guidelines for non-GM cottonseed producers

OCA sets new guidelines for non-GM cottonseed producers

The new guidelines of the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) has been released for seed producers to prevent GMO contamination in organic cotton

Amsterdam (The Netherlands), May 12, 2021

The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) has released the
Non-GM Cottonseed Production Guidelines, which provide the
textile sector with a
key tool
for safeguarding the integrity of organic cotton at the seed level; the very
start of the supply chain
. These
guidelines aim to create a standardised industry approach for the production of
non-genetically engineered (non-GM) seed
marketed to organic cotton growers
,
and as such improve the integrity of the entire organic
cotton value chain from seed to shirt.

Led by OCA,
these guidelines have been developed in consultation with sector experts and
via field pilots at three Indian seed producers. They are now made
available to producers of non-GM cottonseed who
want to implement solid practices to monitor and prevent GMO presence along
their seed supply chain. Ultimately, these guidelines are set to help the
growing number of Indian organic smallholder farmers
by increasing their access to non-GM seed and strengthening the integrity of organic
cotton produce for brands and retailers.

A much-needed global common framework 

The market demand for organic cotton
is growing. As the seed forms the starting point of the cotton value chain, to
meet such demand we need to secure the availability of reliable non-GM seed, an
essential requirement in organic farming. Organic regulations guarantee that
organic producers take far-reaching steps to avoid GMO contamination from
farmers, to spinners, to brands. However, in countries where GM cotton
dominates the market – like India, accidental GMO contamination at seed level may incur, making it challenging to secure the basic characteristics of the seed required by organic farming regulations
and jeopardising
the integrity of the broader organic cotton sector.

Responding to this critical
need of the sector,
OCA,
through its Seed
and
Innovation
Programme, is focused on improving non-GM cottonseed availability
as a
n essential first step in working towards setting up
organic cottonseed value chains
. Through the Programme, OCA provides the joint largest investment in
cotton cultivars suitable for organic agriculture,
as well as interventions
on GM screening, the creation of a database of organic cotton farm groups and
capacity building for farmers and trainers
. By developing
the Non-GM Cottonseed Production Guidelines, OCA wants to
help seed producers monitor and prevent GMO
presence in different contexts and countries all over the world, from early
breeding stages up to the final production, processing and packaging of
planting seed.

Commenting
on the Non-GM Cottonseed Production Guidelines
, Vivek Rawal, CEO & Director at bioRe India, said,
“Each Indian Farm Group has long been seeking its own
remedy for one and the same challenge: procuring reliable non-GM seed
for their farmers. By
strengthening and validating seed producers
’ capacity to implement standard practices for
preventing GMO presence in their cottonseed lots
, OCA’s Seed Assurance Programme significantly reduces the risk of GMO
contamination in seed lots marketed to farm groups and limit
s the need for repeated
GMO sampling and testing by farm groups.
”

OCA’s Programme Officer, Mathilde
Tournebize,
added, “OCA is very grateful for the input
and feedback from technical experts and
Indian seed
producers
who contributed
to developing these guidelines. We have already started rolling out the
implementation of the guidelines in India,
starting
with Partech Seeds
. By verifying
Partech’s compliance to these guidelines using second-party
verification audits at
the end of 2021
, they will be able to differentiate themselves in the marketplace,
while
their clients will feel
more confident to source
reliable non-GM seed to grow
their organic cotton
with.”

Partech Seeds has established a long term partnership with OCA and is a leading partner
invested in producing seed for the Indian organic cotton sector
. Commenting on the collaboration, Snehal Doshi, Director
of Partech Seeds Pvt Ltd, said, “We have been working
in this sector for several years with most major farm groups under OCA’s Farm
Programme. Adopting the guidelines has helped us consolidate our efforts and
streamline our systems. It comes at a time when the demand for non GM cotton
seeds have increased manifolds and there is a shortage of quality seeds in the
market. We aim to strengthen our process in a cost efficient manner through the
guidelines hoping to cater to this increased demand in the sector.
”

OCA is also rolling out the Non-GM Seed Assurance Programme by
partnering with seed producers and providing capacity building support on a
need basis to implement these guidelines.

The Organic
Cotton Accelerator (OCA) is a multi-stakeholder organisation dedicated to
organic cotton. As a global platform, it is committed to bringing integrity,
supply security and measurable social and environmental impact to organic
cotton. 

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