Monsanto takes on CBAN re: Bill C-474: Students in Vancouver take action

Please see below that Monsanto is fighting back to stop Bill C-474
and CBAN’s successful campaign.
1. The industry arguments are desperate  and make very little sense – stay tuned for CBAN rebuttal of industry  arguments: “If you let groups like CBAN offer their comment I don’t think it really has any interest whatsoever in protecting farmers’
rights to access to new technology.” – Trish Jordan, Monsanto Canada
(from below article)

2. House of Commons Agriculture Committee hearings on Bill C-474 will
happen in late May and early June.

3. Your actions continue: Vancouver Kingsway NDP MP Don Davies
presented a petition in the House of Commons April 29 in support of
Bill C-474, signed by well over 100 students, organized by Chanel and
Cassandra Ly, Emily Chan and Brendan Chan. “These students took the
leadership and initiative to educate their classmates about this
important issue raised by this bill and I am proud to present their
views in Parliament on their behalf. These students want to protect
the environment, ensure the health of Canadians and support community
food producers. I join with them in calling for the swift passage of
this bill through committee and into law,” said Mr. Davies in the
House of Commons. You can download the petition from
and request your MP to present in the House also.


“Voluntary better than legislated” Manitoba Cooperator, Allan Dawson,
April 29, 2010

Co-operation, not legislation as proposed in Bill C-474, is the way to
ensure new genetically modified (GM) crops don’t disrupt markets while
encouraging private firms to continue developing new ones, says JoAnne
Buth, president of the Canola Council of Canada (CCC).

C-474, which recently received second reading in the House of Commons,
calls for the impact on markets to be assessed before a new GM crop is
commercialized. The bill’s author, NDP MP Alex Atamanenko, says the
intent is to prevent the introduction of new GM crops from closing
markets to Canadian farmers.

Assessing market impact is subjective, according to Buth, and the
uncertainty of getting new GM crops approved in Canada will drive
investment away.

No canola: “You wouldn’t have canola in Canada if (Bill) 474 went
through,” she told the Canada Grains Council’s 41st annual meeting in
Winnipeg April 19.

“We have a hard enough time making sure that canola seed developers
get enough resources from within their companies because they’re
competing with corn and soybeans.

“If we moved away from science based and put a socioeconomic
evaluation in there they would walk away from canola. I just think
it’s absolutely appalling that this bill went through and has gone as
far as it is. I’ve actually never felt so strongly about a piece of
legislation coming through like this.” The CCC has had a voluntary
agreement with GM developers on how to bring new GM canolas to market
since 1996. It works well, Buth said later in an interview. The policy
outlines to developers what they should do before commercializing a GM
crop in Canada. “It’s voluntary and they have all agreed and we meet
once a year to make sure we’re all on board.”

Voluntary policy Developers must get approvals for new GM canolas in
Canada, the United States, Mexico, Japan, China, South Korea and the
European Union before releasing new GM canolas. “It’s the industry’s
way of dealing with it,” Buth said. “(Bill C-) 474 is a nightmare,
it’s a total nightmare.” The agreement has worked well for Monsanto
Canada, company spokeswoman Trish Jordan said April 21 “Our second-
generation Roundup Ready canola trait (expected by 2014) will go
through this process and we will work with the canola council to make
sure the products are approved in the countries where it matters.”

If market assessment works by agreement, why not when legislated?
According to Jordan, under legislation groups such as the Canadian
Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), which she claims opposes all GM
crops, would politicize the process. Too many voices “If you had a
system that was legislated and socio-economic factors were taken into
account there could be lots of players offering comment and
influencing that have absolutely no vested interest in the industry
being successful or the particular product being successful,” she said.

“If you let groups like CBAN offer their comment I don’t think it
really has any interest whatsoever in protecting farmers’ rights to
access to new technology.”

CBAN co-ordinator Lucy Sharrat denied CBAN wants C-474 as a way to
block new GM crops.

“Any (market) assessment would be a factual survey of export market
acceptance or approvals of whatever GM crop that is in question,” she
said. “You can’t change the facts about export market reality.

Either your export markets accept or don’t accept the GM crop.”
Sharrat accused Monsanto of being prepared to release GM crops and
force export customers to accept them and that’s why, in her view, a
voluntary approach is flawed.

Technology tolerances Monsanto won’t undermine markets, Jordan
stressed, but it believes buyers should have access to GM and non-GM
crops. That only works if buyers accept the low-level presence of GM
in non-GM crops carried in dockage or even dust a policy the grains
council is pursuing.

Monsanto is working to commercialize GM wheat. Roundup Ready (GM)
alfalfa, despite opposition from the Manitoba Forage Council, is on
the cusp of commercialization in Canada.

C-474, if law, would protect farmers’ interests, according to Sharrat.

The loss of Canada’s export flax market to its largest customer, the
European Union due to GM contamination, shows how sensitive markets
are, she added.

However, the bill’s opponents say the proposed market assessment
process wouldn’t have prevented the contamination because it appears
to have occurred before Triffid was approved for release. “There are
lots of people out there who are anti-GMO and we’ve handed them a tool
to use, albeit somewhat out of context, to promote their platform,”
Flax Council of Canada chair Terry James told the grains council
meeting. “To hear that’s one of the reasons they want to put this bill
forward doesn’t make any sense to me,” said James, who is also vice-
president of export market ing for Richardson International.

Industry, government and farm organizations can flesh out C-474 so it
works for everyone, Sharrat said.

“They can only do that if there is a proper debate,” she said.
“Obviously the biotechnology industry is trying to scare us out of
having this real discussion about what can concretely be done here.”

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

Your actions worked! MPs voted for Bill C-474! (it will now be studied by the Agriculture Committee.)
For more updates and action
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