Canadians challenge SmartStax approval
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, October 16 2009
Today Canadians opposing Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) crops will join the first "International Day of Action Against Multinational Corporations" that has been initiated by the global farmers' movement called La Via Campesina. Canadians will support this year's focus on Monsanto and GM crops by inundating the Minister of Health with letters and calls asking for the immediate withdrawal of approval for Monsanto's GM "SmartStax" corn, authorized without safety assessment from Health Canada.
Canadians are calling and writing the Minister of Health to ask that she immediately halt the introduction of Monsanto’s new eight-trait GM corn called "SmartStax" because it was not assessed for safety by Health Canada. "SmartStax" corn was authorized this summer by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for planting next year but was not examined by Health Canada for human health safety.
La Via Campesina is calling multinational corporations the "main threat to peasant and indigenous families and humanity" because corporations are privatizing land, biodiversity, water, and seeds. Monsanto is the world's largest seed company and owns almost 90% of all the GM crops sown globally.
"It's extremely significant that La Via Campesina is focusing their World Food Day action on Monsanto and GM crops. It shows us that farmers around the world see GM crops as a major threat to their survival," said Devlin Kuyek, a Montreal-based researcher for the international group GRAIN.
"Monsanto and Dow together own eight patents in 'SmartStax' corn and will charge higher prices and take deeper control over seed," said Benoit Girouard, President of Union Paysanne, a member group of La Via Campesina.
"Health Canada must stop Monsanto's 'SmartStax' corn before farmers start growing a GM crop that was never assessed for human consumption." said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. "The Minister of Health is supporting Monsanto ahead of safeguarding the health of Canadians."
"Monsanto is still pushing GM wheat and GM alfalfa regardless of the major environmental risks and despite the fact that consumers and farmers have soundly rejected both," said Arnold Taylor of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate’s Organic Agriculture Protection Fund.
"Contamination by GM crops is causing deep financial harm to Canadian farmers," said Terry Boehm, Vice-President of the National Farmers Union, also a member group of La Via Campesina. "Right now we see that Canadian farmers face the loss of their most important flax market in Europe due to GM contamination."
For more information: Benoit Girouard, Union Paysanne, 450 495 1910; Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network 613 241 2267 ext. 6; Arnold Taylor, Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, cell: 306 241 6126 or 306 252 2783; Terry Boehm, National Farmers Union, 306 255 2880.