Be careful about signing any document certifying that crops you have grown are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Such a document could make you legally responsible for something you can't control, says Blue Earth County educator Kent Thiesse of the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

There has been resistance in Europe, Japan and some other countries to grain that was produced with GMO varieties and hybrids. As a result, some grain dealers or processors may seek to buy grain that is certified as non-GMO. But producers should only sign certifications for grain growing and handling practices they have control over, says Thiesse.

"A good rule of thumb is to only sign contracts and certification for non-GMO grain production that could be reasonably verified if problems occur," says Thiesse. "Producers don't control grain after it leaves the farm."

Thiesse says a grower could reasonably commit to the following statements in a contract or certification regarding non- GMO grain:

  • o No seed represented by the seed company as GMO was planted.
  • o Seed represented by the seed company as non-GMO was planted.
  • o Care was taken to avoid contamination in all operations including harvest, storage and transportation of the grain.
  • Some statements for producers to avoid in a contract or certification are:
  • o The grain has no GMO germplasm.
  • o No contamination occurred in harvest, storage or transportation of the grain.
  • o No contamination has occurred from pollen drift.

When in doubt, it's probably best to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional before signing any non-GMO contract or certification, says Thiesse.

"Thus far, very few grain elevators or warehouses are segregating grain as GMO or non-GMO, and even fewer are paying any premiums for non-GMO grain," says Thiesse. "That could change if the demand for non-GMO grain increases and if better standards and certification procedures are established."