[Market-farming] Is Micropropagation Organic?
cyndi at tikvah.com
Fri Nov 28 15:38:55 EST 2003
From: "Paul A. Bock" <bockpa at plesh.com>
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2003 13:24:58 -0500
I know that there is "organic" mushroom growers.
Yes. There is also organic mushroom spores available. I have some plugs I
have yet to plant, but would like to soon. My organic certification
application is almost done (the grower part is done save for the inspection
but I'm mostly doing this for the processing part and it's got a few holes)
and I'd love to add some mushrooms to the mix.
And that these guys are probably limited from using fungicides, and
Completely prohibited, yep.
Now these guys probably don't propagate their mushrooms by capturing
spores by doing a spore print and then "growing" them out on some
compost. This would be the equivalent of planting seeds.
I know next to nothing about how to grow mushrooms and zero about how to
propagate them. If capturing spores and growing them out on compost is
acceptable on the mushroom end of things, there's no reason that it would
not be okay on the organic end. As long as the compost met organic
Everything I have heard of mushroom growing is that everybody uses
sterile culture techniques on agar which eventually "seed" cultures on
grain or sawdust to produce spawn, that then is "seeded" into a compost
or substrate where the fungi grows and lives until it produces fruit, "
a mushroom". And that the "seed" that is exchanged commercially they
way a farmer may buy seed is test tubes or petris dishes of the original
fungus growing on some sort of Agar.
I'll have to take your word for it :)
What I want to know is if micropropagation is considered organic. This
is basically using a technique similar to how mushroom fungi are grown
on agar substrates. This is my understanding of micropropagation. When
a plant is in the form of a seed, the cells of the plant are still
unspecialized (no roots, leaves, or stem, etc.) and also when a plant
becomes injured specialized cells in the location of the injury can
become unspecialized and become used to form a callus to fix the injury.
This is where scab on potatoes comes from, certain blemishes on fruit,
etc. Now these unspecialized cells can be grown out on agar the way
mushroom fungi are. a lot of special chemicals are used to feed the
small plant embryos. In fact you can rapidly propagate a plant this
way. Grow plant cells out on a petri dish and cut the organism and the
medium they are growing on up into 100 pieces, and boom!, you have 100
plants. Then they use special chemicals and/or hormones to get a plant
to sprout and produce a leaf. Then they use different chemicals to
start the plant to produce roots. Apparently this is where a lot of
those "plug" trays come from. I first thought they were from seed.
The method sounds acceptable to me. The issue would be the various
ingredients. Compost and fertilizer do not have to be from certified
organic sources. There are strict guidelines but it is okay to use plant
and animal material that is not certified organic.
Some chemicals are allowed in organic production. They have to be on the
National List. You can find this here:
It is also possible to petition the USDA to add certain chemicals or
processes to the list. This happens generally when a new type of
production gets organic standards. Like honey or fiber. The original
rules were designed for regular plant agriculture. They didn't think of
Well, this is a gray area for me, because on one hand we are very close
to the same practice as propagating plants with cuttings or parts of
tubers like potatoes. But on the other hand, we are very close to the
same techniques used to genetically modify plant DNA. Specifically this
is just a propagation technique, i.e. cloning, but we would not be
modifying the genes of the plants.
The techniques you describe are nothing like genetic engineering. As you
say, you'd have to actually modify the genes of the plants, something that
is usually done by inserting genes from a completely different species
(fish into tomatoes, for example).
So can micropropagation of plants be allowed as organic?
Assuming the ingredients are all allowed, it seems to me that the technique
would be okay, but this is just a guess. To be absolutely sure, call your
local friend organic certifier. I use CCOF (ccof.org) which is California
Certified Organic Farmers. You can find a list of certifiers here:
http://www.ota.com/online%20directory/Directory%20nest.htm (choose a search
by Business Type then use the menu to choose Certifiers and add your state
if you wish--there are 39 listings total).
Petaluma, California Zone 9 USDA; Zone 15 Sunset Western Garden Guide
Chemically sensitive/disabled - Organic Gardening only by choice and neccessity
Handcrafted organic soaps & cosmetics cyndi at tikvah.com
Organic bedding, safety equipment http://www.tikvah.com/
_________________ Owner of the Immune Website & Lists http://www.immuneweb.org/
More information about the Market-farming