Market moves to non-GMO produce

By Vicki Hyatt | Feb 26, 2014

When customers check out the Historic Haywood Farmers Market this year, they will be able to see which growers use genetically-modified seeds at a glance.

The market is working toward the goal of only accepting non-GMO produce, and beginning this year, will require any vendor growing produce from GMO seed to post signage on the product in a size large enough for consumers to readily see it.

Vendors who do not use GMO seed or other products are free to post signage indicating the choice, the revised guidelines state.

"As more study results become available, and as concern for genetically modified products becomes more apparent, we at Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market are choosing to take steps to provide GMO-free choices to customers," said Carol James, market manager. "At this producer-only market, vendors may not purchase products from others for resale but must grow their own, thereby ensuring quality and supporting local agricultural jobs."

These revised guidelines are the market's initial steps to direct the course of healthy locally grown vegetables, James said.

"Our vendors are, in general, choosing to grow produce from non-GMO seeds and starts. Any grower using GMO seeds or starts in their market production will be required to label it as such. We expect many vendors will be displaying signage indicating their choices as together we become more informed."

The Historic Haywood Farmers Market, which sets up in the Haywood Regional Theater parking lot each Wednesday and Saturday mornings through October, will open this year on Saturday, April 26.

There will be a kick-off meeting for current and interested vendors at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 25 at the extension office.

James pointed out that genetically modified products are being used in much of what is purchased for animal feed and other market offerings and said market leaders are continuing to explore alternatives by networking with other farmers markets, exploring ideas for additional guidelines and enforcement.

The goal is to move toward becoming GMO-free.

Also new this year is a requirement that vendors that sell value-added products have to provide a certificate of registration from the N.C. Department of Revenue showing they pay sales tax on the products.

Growers who sell produce, plants or items that are not altered in any way for sale to the public are exempt from paying the sales tax, but those who offer items such as meats, cheese, baked goods, jams or pickles are required to collect and remit the 2 percent sales tax assessed on food items.

Those selling craft items at the market pay the same retail sales tax that’s assessed on other commodities sold in the state — which are 7 percent in Haywood County.

The Waynesville Tailgate Market, which operates during the same days and hours as the Historic Haywood Market, does not permit value-added farm products and won't be making any changes as far as the sale of products using genetically modified seeds.

"Our requirements are as usual," said Judy West, who oversees the market. "Our market is limited to fresh fruits and vegetables grown in Haywood County,"

She said vendors haven't heard a lot of customer comments about the subject.

"Probably most of them don't really know that it is," she said of the genetically modified seeds. One of the market's regular vendors, Joseph and Tara Cathey, are very involved in the issue, West said, adding the couple uses heritage seeds for their crops.

While there will be a few new rules discussed at the Waynesville Tailgate Market organizing meeting to be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 27, at the Farm Bureau Conference room, most have to do with things like parking, West said.

The Haywood Historic market features fresh produce from local growers, but also permits value-added food products, as well as heritage crafts. The craft items must be juried and pre-approved by the board before a vendor is allowed space. The complete market guidelines can be found

Comments (3)
Posted by: James Franklin | Feb 26, 2014 07:26

There is no scientific evidence that GMOs cause any harm.

Posted by: Linda Sexton | Feb 26, 2014 10:05

Thank you so very much for taking this step.  Non GMO seeds and produce are our future.  Personally, I try to not eat foods that contain GMO's.  Right now this is particularly difficult due to big agra fighting the labeling of these creations.  But you know if you buy local, and grow your own, you can do a pretty good job of avoiding them.  Now thanks to the Haywood Historic market, this will even be easier for me.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Feb 26, 2014 10:47

               I farmed app. 1,100 acres of primarily irrigated ground in Northern Indiana for almost 30 years. I used mostly no or limited till practices. I was approached by several company representatives to do yield checks on their products on several occaisons.

               As to "Genetically modified grain", initially Roundup- reddy soybeans whereby the plant was resistant to the herbicide "Roundup", the initial soybean varieties were not exactly the most prolific in yield. As more varieties became available I used them. With great success. Allowed me to apply "Roundup" after the plant and weeds were tall enough that the plant would shade the ground and naturally prevent weeds from then emerging and competing with the plant.

                 I did not have access to any other GMOs.

                 Generally speeking a GMO is a seed that has had a gene altered to cause the subsequent plant to resist a certain product such as "Roundup". This tecnology is being used in about all crops and some breeding stock as I understand it. Does this technology adversely affect the consumption of its products is the question to be answered. Generally speeking not yet.

                  It must be remembered that as all things of nature evolve constantly, GMOs are simply evolution speeded up and helped along by human intervention. I'd suggest that GMOs that are not as harmful as the products they replaced that were subjected to more herbicide/inscticides, etc. GMOs are an easy target as few people have first hand experience nor knowledge of them. However! The only way to be free of chemical additives is to grow it yourself. Few products are truly "organic" or otherwise chemical free, as most are grown outdoors and subject to Nature whereby chemicals are spred by wind, rain, animal, bug, etc, etc. I had a popcorn field contaminated by fieldcorn crossbreeding with my popcorn even though there was a 1/4 mile distance between them. Deer had walked thru the fieldcorn, picked up its pollen and then walked thru my popcorn field. Very annoying.



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