Canadian Farm and Consumer Groups Urge U.S. Department of Agriculture to Stop Monsanto’s New GE Seed
Saskatoon, March 3, 2010 – Today a number of prominent Canadian farmer and consumer groups urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
not to permit the introduction of Monsanto’s genetically engineered
(GE) alfalfa in the U.S., citing serious concerns about the future of
organic food and farming in North America.
The USDA invited comments on their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of allowing Monsanto’s GE (herbicide tolerant) alfalfa. Canadian groups including the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, Beyond Factory Farming, and the National Farmers Union – responded by submitting highly critical analyses to the USDA. They argue that GE alfalfa plantings in the U.S. would contaminate Canadian alfalfa and cause serious harm to Canadian farmers and the environment.
If the USDA disregards these and similarly critical comments from
American farmers and consumers, the U.S. will likely allow GE alfalfa
by the end of the summer. If the USDA decides in favour of GE alfalfa,
the current court injunction on plantings in the U.S. will be lifted.
Monsanto is also challenging this same injunction at the U.S. Supreme
Court. The case is scheduled for argument on April 27. Should the
Supreme Court find in Monsanto’s favour, it could lift the injunction
pending the conclusion of the EIS.
“The USDA argues that GE contamination of alfalfa could be prevented
or minimized which is ludicrous and doesn’t match the real world
experience of farming,” said Arnold Taylor of the Saskatchewan Organic
Directorate (SOD). Taylor and other farmers in SOD detailed the many
ways in which GE contamination would happen in their 21-page
submission to the USDA <www.cban.ca/alfalfa>. “There’s no doubt we’ll
see widespread contamination of Canadian alfalfa if Monsanto gets its
way in the U.S.,” said Taylor.
“Alfalfa is irreplaceable for all the benefits it brings to farmers
and the soil,” said Taylor. Alfalfa is a perennial that builds soil
fertility, improving the productivity of farmland.
GE alfalfa needs variety registration before its legal to sell the
seeds in Canada but our government has approved it for human and
environmental safety. This means that GE alfalfa from the U.S. could
legally be imported as hay for animal feed, for example.
Alfalfa is widely used as a high protein livestock feed and is
referred to as the “Queen of Forages” because of its important and
unique characteristics. “If organic farmers are forced to stop growing
alfalfa due to GE contamination there will be a severe shortage of
feed for certified organic livestock and dairy cows. This will limit
this important and growing sector of the food system,” said Cathy
Holtslander of Beyond Factory Farming.
“Conventional and organic alfalfa growers in Canada agree that GE
alfalfa would be an utter disaster for our markets” says Maggie Mumm
an organic alfalfa seed producer and co-owner of Mumm’s Sprouting
Seeds, “We know from the current flax contamination crisis that GE
contamination can cost farmers dearly.”
107 farmer and consumer groups have so far signed a statement against
“We can’t allow Monsanto’s GE seeds to destroy the livelihoods of
farmers and jeopardize the future of organic farming,” said Lucy
Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network 613 241 2267 ext.6; Arnold Taylor, Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, cell: 306 561 7788 or 306-252-2783; Maggie Mumm, 306 747
Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
431 Gilmour Street, Second Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 0R5
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext.6
Fax: 613 241 2506
Join the Global Rejection of GE Wheat! www.cban.ca/GEwheat
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