[Please contact me if you know other means and sources of GMO testing. Keeping our local seed strains clean is urgent. ~DS]
Local food growers who specialize in producing organic produce and home gardeners who want to avoid growing GMO crops in their backyard gardens have limited resources to identify whether a seed stock contains genetically modified organisms (GMO). There are three basic methods available.
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Many seed sellers sell certified GMO-free seed stock. One of the most comprehensive directories of companies that sell non-GMO seeds is the Southern Organic Resource Guide, which lists companies across the country. While this guide does not endorse the companies it lists, it states that it has made an effort to compile a listing of organic seed sources to assist organic producers and encourages growers to visit the respective companies’ websites.
Similarly, local co-ops that produce organic vegetables may also have “known non-GMO” seed sellers that are local to you.
ELISA protein antibody test strips offer relatively rapid turnaround times to determine whether a grain lot is non-GMO. However, their use is limited. The strips test for particular chemical and protein signatures for common GMO seed stocks, such as the Roundup Ready gene and the Bt gene, but they can’t test for everything.
The definitive test for GMO tainting is PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing done in a laboratory. Unfortunately, it’s a multiweek process and is fairly expensive to run. However, if you’re establishing a seed line that you want to certify as organic for sale to other growers, this is an investment worth making. PCR testing includes a comprehensive battery of tests, which will give you a near complete genetic breakdown and comparison to known organic varieties.