Stop GM alfalfa in Canada
2.Consumers still unsure about GM wheat
EXTRACTS: Consumers are willing to accept many types of new technology without reserve but when it comes to GM food, feelings run very high, said Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Laurent Pellerin.
"Obviously if you're going to introduce this technology you have to make sure that consumers are comfortable with it - that is a big piece of the puzzle." - Blair Rutter, executive director, Western Canadian Wheat Growers' Association (item 2)
1.Stop GM Alfalfa in Canada
For more information and to see the list of groups endorsing the campaign: http://www.cban.ca/NoGMOAlfalfa
*Widespread Call Issued to Stop GM Alfalfa in Canada
*80 groups to fight the commercialization of genetically modified alfalfa
Press Release April 28 2009
Ottawa Today, 80 groups including farmer associations and food businesses from across Canada joined the growing call to stop the introduction and field-testing of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa.
The alfalfa in question is genetically modified by Monsanto to be tolerant to the company’s brand name herbicide Roundup. Alfalfa would be the first perennial GM crop on the market.
“The contamination of alfalfa would be inevitable and irreversible. We’ve already seen an end to organic canola due to GM contamination and we can’t afford to lose alfalfa,” said Arnold Taylor of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate. “Because it’s pollinated by bees, genes from Monsanto’s GM alfalfa would spread out of control.”
Alfalfa is an important crop for all farmers, both organic and conventional, as a soil builder by fixing nitrogen, as a clean-up crop to end weed infestations, and as feed for dairy cattle and other animals. "Farmers universally see no reason for GM alfalfa. Monsanto is the only beneficiary. The company would gain by selling more Roundup and by controlling yet another crop through its gene patents, which in all other Roundup Ready crops in Canada, have disallowed farmers from saving seed," said Terry Boehm, Vice President of the National Farmers Union.
GM alfalfa was approved by the Canadian government in 2005 but cannot be commercialized until Monsanto and Forage Genetics International seek and meet registration requirements for the variety. In the U.S., a Federal court revoked approval for GM alfalfa, ruling that a full environmental assessment was needed, citing risks to farmers and the environment.
The 80 groups that signed the “No to GM Alfalfa” letter include farmer associations, farm businesses, sprouting and seed companies, food retailers, and public interest groups. The groups oppose the sale, trade and production of GM alfalfa and are asking the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to reassess its approval of GM alfalfa.
“The response from diverse groups across Canada in support of this position is huge. This is only the beginning of strong opposition to GM alfalfa as there is so much at stake for consumers and farmers alike,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, a coalition of 18 groups. “The government must recognize the predictable and devastating environmental and economic costs of GM alfalfa and revoke approval now, rather than wait until after its too late and farmers have lost their crops and livelihoods to contamination.”
Carmen Wakeling of Eatmore Sprouts & Greens Ltd. in BC said that, "Over time the availability of certified organic alfalfa seed would disappear, creating severe challenges for seed and sprout growers. Ultimately, GM alfalfa would have major repercussions on certified organic food producers throughout Canada and the U.S., no matter what they are making or growing".
Urban consumers are also extremely concerned about the introduction of GM alfalfa. “Canadian consumers are becoming more and more educated about GM foods and are increasingly looking for organic products,” said Dag Falck, Organic Program Manager for Nature’s Path, a major manufacturer of organic cereals in North America. “Its essential that we ensure consumers retain the option to buy non-GM foods."
“Our customers are very clear that they don’t want to eat GM foods, and that includes honey, milk and meat that would be effected by GM alfalfa,” said Julie Daniluk of The Big Carrot food store in Toronto.
The 80 groups will work together to stop the commercialization of GM alfalfa in Canada and have formed a “No to GM Alfalfa” campaign to protect the crop.
For more information:
Arnold Taylor, Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, cell: 306-241-6126 or 306-252-2783;
Terry Boehm, Vice-President, National Farmers Union, 306-255-2880 or 306-257-3689;
Dag Falck, Organic Program Manager, Nature’s Path, 250 379 2244;
Julie Daniluk, The Big Carrot, 416-771-4496.
or visit www.cban.ca/NoGMOAlfalfa
2.Consumers still unsure about GM wheat
By Alana Vannahme
Canadian Cattlemen - the beef magazine, 18 April 2009
Resource News International - It has been five years since U.S. seed and chemical company Monsanto dropped its plans to introduce genetically modified (GM) wheat in the face of consumer opposition -- and while some attitudes have shifted since then, by and large many people still aren't certain they want GM wheat included in their bread.
Consumers are willing to accept many types of new technology without reserve but when it comes to GM food, feelings run very high, said Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Laurent Pellerin.
The CFA itself neither promotes nor opposes GM wheat, but as long as there is no market for it, as is currently the case, it is "going to be wary of the introduction of GM seeds," Pellerin said.
Farmers cannot afford to invest in crops they are not able to market, he continued.
Dustin Gosnell, director of strategic planning and corporate policy for the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), similarly said the board is neutral toward the prospect of GM wheat.
"We don't oppose the introduction of GM wheat but it has to be done in a manner that won't be disruptive of trade flows," Gosnell said.
CWB support for the commercial introduction of GM wheat would be conditional upon wide-spread market acceptance, achievable tolerance acceptance levels and an ability to segregate GM wheat from non-GM wheat also to a level that is acceptable to its buyers, Gosnell explained.
The board continually tries to gage attitudes towards GM wheat among its buyers and while reservations have likely eased some over the past few years, there is "still certainly strong concern," Gosnell said.
When asked whether the board sees the eventual introduction of GM wheat in Canada as inevitable, Gosnell replied, "It's hard to say. I would expect that likely over time there will be enough acceptance but that is really difficult to know."
As for the Western Canadian Wheat Growers' Association (WCWGA), they are open to technologies which improves wheat's competitiveness versus other crops but they are not particularly wedded to any one type of technology.
Western Canada has lost 10 million acres of wheat over the last 20 years even as summerfallow acreage declined. The land has shifted into GM canola and special acreage, WCWGA executive director Blair Rutter said.
At the same time, Canada faces increased competition internationally from low-cost wheat producers such as Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, he said.
"We have to look at ways we can either increase our yields or increase the premium that we get for our wheat. So we're certainly open to (GM technology) but it's probably about six to eight years before we see anything introduced on a commercial basis," Rutter said.
While the WCWGA feels there is growing consumer acceptance for GM wheat, concerns about the loss of marketing opportunities are certainly legitimate, he said.
"Obviously if you're going to introduce this technology you have to make sure that consumers are comfortable with it - that is a big piece of the puzzle. But we've got six to eight years likely to make sure we have the proper systems in place," Rutter said.
Looking ahead, caution and thorough consultations will need to guide the commercial introduction of GM wheat in Canada to ensure that all parties along the supply chain, from producer to consumer, benefit from GM wheat, the different groups agreed.