Forging Toward Coexistence

24 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2013 Last revised: 1 Nov 2017

Date Written: September 5, 2012


For better or worse, the United States has demonstrated a long history of support for agricultural biotechnology. Justified as necessary to meet the growing demands of our nation’s food demand, federal policies addressing genetic engineering have attempted to balance of set of competing interests to ensure health and safety while also encouraging further innovation and development of technology. The unfortunate effects of these policies are suffered disproportionately by organic and non-GE farmers, as there has been little consideration of how the products of genetic engineering impact this sector. In the midst of regulating biotechnology, the federal government has lost sight of the fact that food production in the United States is not uniform, and each production method has an impact on the other. Recently, USDA Secretary Tom Vilasck reconvened the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and the 21st Century (“AC21”) to consider, among other things, how to develop a national policy that takes into account the different methods of food production in a more equitable manner. This article argues that, because current federal policies hamper the ability of organic and non-GE farmers to ensure the safety and authenticity of their products, the AC21 needs to meet its charge and reach consensus on USDA supported mechanisms that encourage and facilitate farmers to develop long term, viable solutions that address the interests of all parties to aid farmers in achieving some degree of coexistence.

Keywords: biotechnology, bioengineering, agriculture, USDA, genetic engineering, organic, administrative law, deregulation, coexistence, Plant Protection Act, crop contamination, cross pollination

Suggested Citation

Beyranevand, Laurie J., Forging Toward Coexistence (September 5, 2012). Nebraska Law Review, Forthcoming; Vermont Law School Research Paper No. 22-12. Available at SSRN: or

Laurie J. Beyranevand (Contact Author)

Vermont Law School ( email )

164 Chelsea Street
P.O. Box 96
South Royalton, VT 05068
United States
(802)831-1030 (Phone)


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