Bill C-474: Chronological Order

Liberals and Conservatives Vote Down Bill C-474

Inaction on genetic engineering will cost farmers – groups vow to protect alfalfa in ongoing controversy

Thursday, February 10, 2011. Ottawa – Last night, a majority of Liberal MPs joined with Conservatives to vote down an important Private Members Bill on genetic engineering (GE). Bill C-474 would have required that “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.” The Bill was defeated 176 to 97.

“Farmers had everything to gain if the Bill was passed. Now we have everything to lose while biotech companies once again have everything to gain,” said Colleen Ross, Vice President of the National Farmers Union. “Our government has been supporting genetic engineering at any cost. But we refuse to accept their willingness to sacrifice some farmers and some crops for the sake of the biotech industry,” said Ross. “Our democracy has to work for farmers and consumers and not just for multinational biotech corporations.”

“The excuses for not supporting the Bill were never truly valid,” said Maureen Bostock, speaking for the Ecological Farmers of Ontario, “This is a clear case of politicians siding with the powerful biotech industry.”

“The Bill was voted down but a real debate about the impacts and future of genetic engineering has now started,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, “Canadians defied the tremendous power of the industry lobby by pushing the Bill further than any other on this issue.”

“Its crazy that the economic risks to farmers are not considered before GE crops are put on the market,” said Genevieve Grossenbacher a young Quebec farmer speaking for the Canadian Organic Growers. “Its farmers who pay the costs of GE contamination, not the biotech companies.”

An immediate concern shared by both conventional and organic farmers is the threat of crop contamination by GE alfalfa. On January 27th, the US Department of Agriculture approved plantings despite widespread opposition from farmers and consumers, and after protracted legal cases. Canada is only one step away from allowing GE alfalfa to be planted here. “It’s urgent that our Members of Parliament take action to stop GE alfalfa from being imported or being approved and grown in Canada. This is the only way to protect our conventional and organic alfalfa from loss of markets and loss of livelihoods,” said Cathy Holtslander speaking for the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate. Because alfalfa is a perennial crop pollinated by bees, GE contamination is inevitable. In addition to export markets for processed alfalfa products, alfalfa is used as pasture and high-protein feed for animals like dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, and pigs and is also used to build up nutrients in the soil, making it particularly important for organic farming.

“Genetic engineering has become more controversial over the years, not less,” said Eric Darier, Director of Greenpeace Quebec, speaking on behalf of the Quebec Network Against GMOs, a coalition of over 20 groups. “The problems with genetic engineering are not going away and the federal government is still refusing to address the issues head on.”

“Building a strong future for food and farming in Canada will take political leadership. Elected representatives must listen to what farmers and consumers are saying,” said Tony Beck of the Society for a GE Free BC, a coalition of local grassroots groups, “Canadians are becoming more involved in farming issues and want to support a sustainable food system.”

Private Members Bill C-474 was introduced by NDP Agriculture Critic and MP for BC Southern Interior, Alex Atamanenko.

For more information:
Colleen Ross, National Farmers Union, Cell: 613 213 1522;
Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext 25;
Cathy Holtslander, Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, 306 384 2141;
Maureen Bostock, Ecological Farmers of Ontario, 613 259 5757;
Eric Darier, Quebec Network Against GMOs, Cell: 514 605-6497 (English or French);
Tony Beck, Society for a GE Free BC, Cell: 604 671 2106.

This post is long but has chronological information on Alex Atamanenko’s Bill C-474. It is about to “heat up” again, so for those that need a little history, read on.

It is imperative that this Bill be passed. It asks to take a closer look and do more testing on the introduction of GM crops/seeds/plants. It is a Bill that protects all farmers: organic, conventional and GM.

Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) petition: please sign!

– – – –

September 30, 2010: Important Updates on Bill C-474

Please see below an article from this week’s “The Hill Times”
newspaper that reports on Parliamentary happenings – it exposes the
biotech industry’s extensive lobbying against Bill C-474. Please also
see below some important updates. Join us to make this concrete change
happen! http://www.cban.ca/474

INDUSTRY IS WORRIED: The Bill is having an international impact – the
global biotech industry is concerned that we might be able to make
this concrete change happen in Canada. Industry associations around
the world understand that this simple, reasonable Bill has the power
to stop them from commercializing GM alfalfa and GM wheat as well as
other GMOs. CBAN attended a recent industry conference where CropLife
International and the Biotechnology Industry Organization both warned
industry audiences that they need to fight the inclusion of social and
economic considerations in assessments of GMOs. Agribusiness giant
Syngenta has also been speaking directly against the Bill. The issue
of GE salmon and the GE “Enviropig” have heightened this conflict.

HEARINGS START AGAIN NEXT WEEK: The fight over Bill C-474 will pick up now and through October to December. House of Commons Agriculture Committee hearings will start up again Tuesday Oct 5 and Thursday Oct 7. There should be 5 hearings in total over the next few weeks, all to finish before November 8th. A final vote may happen in December.

LIBERAL PARTY OBSTRUCTION: The Liberal Party is looking for a way to justify not supporting the Bill. You will see the below article
reports that the Liberal Agriculture Critic Wayne Easter is concerned
about the impact of the Bill on biotech research.

PETITIONS: Many of you are collecting petitions in your communities.
Please send these in this month. We urge you to send these to your
local MP as your voice as a constituent is important – your MP can
table the petition in the House, even if they do not agree with the
petition request. Please contact me if you would like assistance or
have any questions.

SPECIAL REQUEST FROM CBAN: CBAN is experiencing a financial crunch at the very time when our work is needed most: to support Bill C-474 and to stop GM salmon and the GM pig “Enviropig”. Your tax-deductible donation is needed today! Thank you for your financial contribution. http://www.cban.ca/donate

Please expect action alerts on Bill C-474 this month and then close to
the final debate.

Biotechnology agriculture industry lobbies hard against Atamanenko?s
private member?s bill

The biotech industry’s national association, BIOTECanada, spent last
Tuesday in 50 meetings with federal politicians and senior government
officials lobbying them to kill C-474, among other issues.

By KRISTEN SHANE
The Hill Times, September 27, 2010

An NDP private member’s bill had the biotechnology industry lobbying
Parliamentarians last week that if they pass it into law, it could
stifle future Canadian innovation of new crop varieties and cause the agricultural biotechnology industry to stagnate. Meanwhile, organic growers, the National Farmers Union and others are urging Parliamentarians to support the bill to protect farmers of non-genetically-modified crops and Canadian export markets.

All the tongue-wagging is over the one line Bill C-474, sponsored by
NDP MP Alex Atamanenko (Southern Interior, B.C.). It passed second
reading by a narrow 153-134 free vote April 14, with the support of
opposition MPs and two Conservatives. The House Standing Committee on
Agriculture and Agrifood has begun to hear witnesses about it, which
is expected to continue throughout the fall.

The bill would require that any new genetically-engineered seed be
required to undergo an analysis of potential harm to export markets
before being approved for sale in Canada.

“If the government isn’t doing that, then that itself is a scandal”
said Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network, a group that says its aim is to promote food sovereignty and
democratic decision- making on science and technology issues.

“That the government is allowing corporations to introduce new
genetically-engineered crops into Canada without actually knowing what
the impact will be on farmers and on markets – that is not good public
policy. That does not make sense. Canada has committed to genetic
engineering as part of our agricultural development. We actually need
to know what that means for farmers” she said.

Last year, Mr. Atamanenko noted, it meant Canadian flax was
temporarily shut out of the European Union, which buys more than 70
per cent of Canadian flax exports, amounting to sales worth more than
$300-million.

The European Union has banned exports of genetically-modified flax and
has a zero tolerance policy. Conventional flax crops had been
contaminated by a genetically-modified strain developed at a
Saskatchewan university, registered for feed, environmental release
and human consumption, but then deregistered almost a decade ago after
a push by flax farmers wary of contamination.

“My point is before we release any more genetically-modified organisms
into the environment, we should be doing some kind of economic
analysis of the potential harm to export markets” said Mr. Atamanenko. For instance, “It makes absolutely no sense to allow the production of GE [genetically-engineered] alfalfa, if there’s no market.”

Genetically-modified alfalfa is approved for growing in Canada, but
not everywhere Canadian farmers sell alfalfa. Genetically modified
wheat is not approved for use anywhere in the world, said Ms. Sharratt.

But many non-GM growers worry about the threat of these two GM crops
sprouting in Canadian fields and contaminating non- GM varieties, as
in the flax fiasco.

Ms. Sharratt said her group knows from research it’s done that 82 per
cent of Canada’s international wheat customers have said they would
stop buying Canadian wheat if genetically- engineered wheat were
introduced here.

“Why would we sacrifice farmers to allow [agricultural biotech giant]
Monsanto to produce genetically-engineered wheat” Why would we
sacrifice our export markets for this idea that our customers should
accept genetically engineered crops? The fact that they don’t is
what’s important” she said.

But Dave Sippell, president of the Canadian Seed Trade Association and
president of Syngenta Seeds Canada, said there are markets for
Canadian-grown genetically modified crops. This year there were about
355 million acres of genetically-modified crops grown in 23 countries,
including Canada, said Mr. Sippell.

The biotech industry’s national association, BIOTECanada, held its
annual awareness week last week and spent Tuesday in 50 meetings with
federal politicians and senior government officials lobbying them to kill C-474, among other issues. “It has the potential to, at the very, very, very least, delay
significantly the introductions of new traits, and in the worst case,
to put farmers in a more uncompetitive position, while other countries
may be launching these products and we don’t” said Mr. Sippell.

Gregory Penner was even more pessimistic. He is the president and CEO
of Neoventures Biotechnology Inc., a London, Ont.-based small business
that is commercializing a diagnostic kit that can test for toxins on
grapes and grain. If the bill passes, for small companies like his,
“it would be very difficult to be here” he said. “It’s not hard to
move to the U.S. And if it’s necessary, it’s necessary.”

Unlike many of their colleagues who grow organic, some farmers of
veteran Canadian genetically-modified crops such as canola say it’s been
around since 1995, and also say they are worried.

“With the bill set up the way that it is, it will basically just
discourage investment in plant research” said Ed Schafer, the
Saskatchewan-based president of the Canadian Canola Growers Association. “Therefore, that’s going to compromise the competitiveness of Canadian farmers going forward” he said.

Biotech companies will be less interested in developing new seed
varieties in Canada because they won’t be sure whether the seeds will
be approved under the new regulatory framework that includes an export
market assessment.

The canola value chain in Canada generates about $14-billion for the
Canadian economy, said Mr. Schafer. Growing genetically- modified
crops also means less pesticide is often needed and so less strain is put on the environment, proponents say.

“Growing GM canola has increased the productivity on my farm,
therefore [it] makes me more profitable, as a grower” said Mr.
Schafer. He and others who want to scrap C-474 all point to a shift
from what they say is Canada’s current “science-based regulatory
system” to one that would let other countries’ politicians determine
the future of Canadian agriculture.

Agricultural biotech companies must go through a rigorous process
already to bring their seeds to market, says Mr. Sippell. It involves
getting approval from Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Environment Canada to ensure the product is safe for feed, human food consumption and the environment.

“At what point does the government have the right to say you can’t
bring a safe product to market?” asked Mr. Penner. “I fear that it
just goes beyond that; you get lobby groups that say, “We don’t like this product” and the government says, “Okay, then this product is not approved.”

Ms. Sharratt argues that there’s no reason to believe an export market
analysis wouldn’t be “science-based” as it would be fact-driven by
asking which countries Canada would serve and whether they allow a
given crop.

For all the talk, it’s unclear C-474 will actually become law in its
current form. While Mr. Atamanenko is fairly certain Bloc Quebecois
MPs would keep supporting his bill at third reading, the Conservatives
seem set against it. The Liberals agreed to pass the bill at second
reading to hear both sides debate its merits at committee, but the
party’s agriculture critic Liberal MP Wayne Easter (Malpeque, P.E.I.)
says he’s inclined to vote against it because of its potentially
negative implications on research, based on what he’s heard so far.

“I made that very clear in the beginning that I would see it go to
discussion; but, in principle, I’m against this bill in its current
design” he said.

Mr. Atamanenko said he is aware of industry pressure, but also said
he’s optimistic the bill will be passed. It’s the first private member’s bill on genetic engineering to get this far in the Parliamentary process.

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
coordinator@cban.ca
http://www.cban.ca

Bill C-474 is concrete action! Take Action this fall http://www.cban.ca/474

– – – –

Update on Bill C-474: Hearings to continue in the Fall, New action
option coming later this week.

June 14, 2010

The House of Commons Agriculture Committee hearings on Bill C-474 got
off to a shaky start as the first hearing on June 2nd was interrupted
by votes in the House and there was only one other hearing, on June
7th. Hearings may now be suspended until the Fall, to be followed by a
final vote (possibly in October).

On June 2, Bill sponsor NDP Agriculture Critic Alex Atamanenko
testified as well as industry associations. On June 7, alfalfa
producers testified in strong support of Bill C-474. The transcript
from June 7 is not yet available.

** CBAN will send a report and action alert this week to pick up from
the important June 7th testimony from alfalfa producers – but we need
the official transcript in order to quote the farmer organizations.

** CBAN will also produce more information and arguments you can use
to rebut industry arguments against Bill C-474. The industry lobby is
strong and well-financed but their arguments are really weak.

** The petition is online and signatures can be collected through the
summer. There is also an updated action flyer at http://www.cban.ca/474
The House of Commons may break soon (perhaps this week) for the
Summer, resuming in mid-September. The hearings on Bill C-474 will
continue in the Fall, followed by a final vote.

The Agriculture Committee is obliged to hold hearings on Bill C-474
within a specified time frame so we can expect hearings in late
September or through October. There could be many hearings because a
lot of groups have requested to testify. When the hearings are over a
final vote will be called – and your action will be needed!

So please stay tuned for updates and actions this week. We will ask
you to continue your pressure on MPs and the education in your
community through the summer. In the Fall, we will all need to take
strong action to try to press all MPs (particularly the Liberal Party
which has not taken a stand on the Bill yet) to vote for Bill C-474.

The Bill is being widely discussed in the farm community and is
forcing the biotech industry to defend its position. The Bill is also
providing a great opportunity for communication with all MPs on the
issue of genetic engineering.

Thank you for your action and support on this important step, Best
regards, Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network

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
coordinator@cban.ca
http://www.cban.ca

– – – –

May 3, 2010

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

1. Please see below that Monsanto is fighting back to stop Bill C-474
and CBAN’s successful campaign. 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 http://www.cban.ca/474
and request your MP to present in the House also.
Article:

“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 Sharratt 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.”
Sharratt 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 Sharratt.

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

– – – –

April 21 2010

Please see below:
1. A great new radio show exposing industry misinformation, reporting
on the MP vote and next steps for Bill C-474 – Committee hearings
likely in late May.
2. Article in the Western Producer, farm paper about the successful
vote on Bill C-474. See what the industry is saying – but Liberal
Agriculture Critic says “Coming in to threaten me won’t do them [the
industry] any good,” he said April 15. “I’ve heard it before. It is a
tactic.”

Remember to check how your MP voted, http://www.cban.ca/474 please
write to thank them for voting in favor and ask them to support the
Bill in its next stages. Your letter will be influential. You can edit
the letter at http://www.cban.ca/474action

Deconstructing Dinner Radio Show, April 15, 2010

“THE VOTE ON BILL C-474 (PROTECTING FARMERS FROM ECONOMIC HARM OF GE  CROPS) “

Web Link: http://www.cjly.net/deconstructingdinner/041510.htm
Download Audio Link: http://traffic.libsyn.com/deconstructingdinner/DD041510.mp3
Stream Audio Link: http://cjly.net/deconstructingdinner/audio/DD041510.m3u

This episode follows up on our March 25th broadcast on Bill C-474 – a
bill that is calling for changes to the process through which
genetically engineered seeds are approved in Canada. The bill was
supported by many groups such as the Canadian Federation of
Agriculture, the National Farmers Union and the Canadian Biotechnology
Action Network, and was strongly opposed by groups like the Canadian
Canola Growers Association and CropLife Canada – the biotechnology and
pesticide industry’s trade association.

The bill was introduced by NDP Member of Parliament Alex Atamanenko
and is encouraging any new approvals of GE seeds to undergo an
analysis of potential harm to export markets prior to their approval.
With many markets around the world restricting their importation, the
bill seeks to ensure global markets will remain open to Canadian
farmers.

On April 14 in Canada’s House of Commons, the bill received enough
support for it to be sent to committee by a vote of 153-134.

This broadcast examines the next steps that this bill must now go
through, and as usual, we deconstruct some more questionable remarks
made by Conservative members in the House of Commons during the bill’s
second hour of debate on April 1. Adding to this deconstructing, we
also look closer at just where this perpetual misinformation among
Members of Parliament might be coming from.

Guests/Voices

Terry Boehm, president, National Farmers Union (NFU) (Allan, SK) – The
National Farmers Union is the only voluntary, direct-membership
national farm organization in Canada. It is also the only farm
organization incorporated through an Act of Parliament (June 11,
1970). Terry farms in Allan, SK.

Wayne Easter member of parliament, Malpeque, Liberal Party of Canada
(North Wiltshire, PEI) – Wayne was born in Charlottetown, Prince
Edward Island and was raised on the family farm in North Wiltshire.
Wayne entered politics in 1993 when he was officially elected as the
Member of Parliament for the riding of Malpeque, P.E.I. He was re-
elected in 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008. In Parliament, Wayne has
served as Solicitor General of Canada, Parliamentary Secretary for
Fisheries and Oceans, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture and Agri-
Food with special responsibilities for the Rural Secretariat, and is
currently the Liberal Party’s Opposition Critic on Agriculture and
Agri-Food.

Brian Storseth, member of parliament, Westlock-St. Paul, Conservative
Party of Canada (St. Paul, AB) – Storseth sits on the Standing
Committee of Agriculture & Agri-Food.

Don Davies, member of parliament, Vancouver-Kingsway, New Democratic
Party of Canada (NDP) – Davies is the NDP’s critic on Public Safety.

Alex Atamanenko, member of parliament, BC Southern Interior, New
Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) (Castlegar, BC) – Atamanenko is the
NDP’s Critic on Agriculture & Agri-Food and Food Security. He sits on
the Standing Committee on Agriculture & Agri-Food.

Web Link: http://www.cjly.net/deconstructingdinner/041510.htm

Deconstructing Dinner is a syndicated weekly one-hour radio show and
podcast produced in Nelson, British Columbia at Kootenay Co-op Radio
CJLY. The show is heard weekly on 38 Canadian and 10 American radio
stations. www.deconstructingdinner.com

********
April 15, 2010: GMO approval bill moves to committee

By Barry Wilson, Ottawa bureau, Western Producer http://www.producer.com/Daily-News/Article.aspx?aid=21485

A controversial private member’s bill that would require an export
market impact assessment before new genetically modified varieties are
approved is heading for public hearings on Parliament Hill.

Opponents of the proposal, including seed companies and some farm
lobbies, are vowing to try to derail it when House of Commons
agriculture committee hearings begin. Given a busy committee schedule
for the next month or more, that may not happen before June or autumn,
when the Commons returns from its summer break.

“We are convinced when we talk about facts and not fear, the committee
will reverse the decision of the House,” said Grain Growers of Canada
executive director Richard Phillips.

Supporters, including environmentalists and the National Farmers
Union, were elated.

“Finally, MPs are taking steps to protect farmers from the economic
chaos that GM crops can cause,” NFU president Terry Boehm said in a
statement.

Lucy Sharratt, co-ordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action
Commission, said the majority of MPs “listened to Canadians instead of
the biotech industry.”

The fierce debate was triggered by a dramatic vote April 14 when a
majority of MPs opted to approve in principle bill C-474, amendments
to the Seeds Regulations proposed by New Democratic Party agriculture
critic Alex Atamanenko of British Columbia.

NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Liberal MPs along with B.C. Conservatives Ron Cannan and James Lunney supported the bill. The Liberals say they do not support the bill as worded but wanted to get it to committee to have a debate.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture takes the same neutral position.

Most of the Conservative caucus opposed the bill as an attempt to
inject politics and uncertainty into the seed registration system.

“It’s unfortunate it has come to this,” agriculture minister Gerry
Ritz said April 15 during a telephone news conference from Beijing.
“From our perspective, these decisions need to be based on sound
science.”

JoAnne Buth, president of the Canola Council of Canada, predicted that
the uncertainty would drive away investment in new GM varieties.

“Putting in an additional restriction in terms of what farmers can get
access to in Canada essentially will stifle research and development
in terms of canola production and we’re really disappointed that the
bill has gone this far,” she said during the same news conference from
a trade mission to China.

Lorne Hepworth, president of CropLife Canada, which represents seed
research companies, said it was an inappropriate injection of ideology
into what should be a science-based system.

“Moving away from science-based regulation leaves our exports
vulnerable to frivolous trade challenges and limits our ability to
adopt valuable innovations for all Canadians.”

Liberal MP Wayne Easter said arguments or threats about pulling out
research investments will cut no ice.

“Coming in to threaten me won’t do them any good,” he said April 15.
“I’ve heard it before. It is a tactic.”

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
coordinator@cban.ca
http://www.cban.ca

Your actions worked! MPs voted for Bill C-474! (it will now be studied
by the Agriculture Committee.)
For more updates and action http://www.cban.ca/474
Donate today http://www.cban.ca/donate

– – – –

April 15 2010

MPs listen to Canadians ahead of industry on GM Crops
Groups applaud MPs for moving Bill C-474 to Committee for study

Ottawa. Thursday, April 15, 2010: Last night, Parliament passed
Private Members Bill C-474 through second reading, in spite of intense
pressure from the biotech industry. The Bill, which would require
analysis of potential harm to export markets before the sale of new
genetically modified (GM) seeds, will now be studied by the House of
Commons Agriculture Committee.

“Finally MPs are taking steps to protect farmers from the economic
chaos that GM crops can cause” said Terry Boehm, President of the
National Farmers Union, “GM contamination has already seriously
damaged major export markets for Canadian flax farmers and would
threaten the markets for our alfalfa and wheat growers.”

The NDP and Bloc Quebecois supports the Bill and last night Liberal
Party MPs voted to allow the Bill to go to this next stage. The
Conservative Party strongly opposes the Bill, though two B.C.
Conservative MPs voted in favour. The Bill was introduced by Alex
Atamanenko, NDP Agriculture Critic and MP for B.C. Southern Interior.

“Last night, the majority of MPs listened to Canadians instead of the
biotech industry” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian
Biotechnology Action Network, “MPs will now have the opportunity to
study and debate this Bill. We are witnessing the first substantive
debate in Parliament over the negative impacts of GM crops.”

The biotech industry lobbied vigorously to stop the upcoming debate at
Committee. Yet the strength of public and farmer concern over GM crops
was apparent to MPs. Over 9000 thousand letters were sent from
constituents in the past month asking MPs to support the Bill. At
least 6 MPs were also presented with petitions.

Bill C-474 was supported by the National Farmers Union, which urged
Parliamentarians and all Canadians, to support the Bill. The Canadian
Federation of Agriculture took a cautious stance in favour of moving
the Bill forward, to encourage debate at Committee.

“The current GM flax contamination crisis shows the value of this
Bill. And the threat of GM alfalfa has made the Bill an urgent
necessity” said Sharratt. Canadian flax export markets closed in
October 2009 when GM contamination was detected.

“We will not stand by and watch farmers struggle alone against the
corporate juggernaut of biotechnology” said Sharratt, “The time when
Canadians are expected to accept GM crops without question, is over.”

For more information: Terry Boehm, National Farmers Union, 306 255
2880;  Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241
2267 ext.6.

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice

– – – –

April 13, 2010

Bill C-474 “Market acceptance bill divides farmers and House of Commons”

Will the biotech industry win tomorrow? Will enough Liberal MPs vote
to send the Bill to the Agriculture Committee for study? Its a close
call! Read below to find out how close the vote could be…
Tune in on Wednesday at http://www.cban.ca to find out what happens,
or connect to CBAN on facebook for instant updates http://www.facebook.com/cban.canadian.biotechnology.action.network

Market acceptance bill divides farmers, House
By Barry Wilson, Western Producer, April 8, 2010
Ottawa bureau

MP’s will be hearing plenty from farmers and environmentalists as the
clock ticks down toward a vote on GMO registration rules.

On April 14, they will vote on whether to approve in principle a
private member’s bill that would require consideration of potential
market impact before a new genetically modified variety is licensed.

The proposal from British Columbia NDP MP Alex Atamanenko has strong
environmentalist support but it has divided the farm community.

A vote next week to approve it would send bill C-474 to the
agriculture committee for public hearings.

“The industry is divided on the prudence of introducing non-science
criteria into the process” Alberta Conservative Brian Storseth said
April 1.

“There is a lot of debate around genetically modified organisms and
people have all kinds of wild and woolly stories” agreed Liberal
Wayne Easter. “There is a lot of pressure from some in the farm
community and some in the investment community not to allow this bill
to go to committee.”

Grain Growers of Canada strongly opposes that outcome, arguing that
parliamentary approval in principle would give the idea undue
credibility in the public mind. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture
says it supports approving the bill to allow a public discussion,
recognizing that approval of GM varieties can result in closed export
markets for Canadian farmers.

The House of Commons also is almost evenly divided.

With the Liberals promising to join NDP and Bloc Quebecois in sending
the bill to committee, supporters should win the day April 14 but
Liberals have not shown themselves capable of getting their votes out
or on side recently. When debate ended, the speaker said a voice vote
indicated the bill would be defeated but not many MP’s were present.

The next vote will be a recorded one when each MP present is asked to
declare a position.

The Liberals say they have concerns about the effect of the “market
impact” assessment being injected into variety registration
deliberations but they want to hear the arguments.
The minority Conservatives strongly oppose it, insisting it would
undermine Canada’s science-based regulatory system.

“Adding in trade and other issues unrelated to science could set a
very dangerous precedent” said Storseth. “We want to ensure we do not
risk bogging things in red tape.”

He warned that research companies could shy away from investing in
Canadian crop development if non-scientific judgments are injected.
“We want to ensure we can continue to bring new technologies, such as
our research into wheat stem rust, to the world. Anything short of
that would be a tragedy.”

Easter scoffed at threats from corporations about withdrawing research
funding.

He referred to a 1994 committee study on a Monsanto dairy growth
hormone product that resulted in a recommendation to withhold approval
of the product because of dairy industry fears.

And he read letters from companies including Monsanto, which warned of
investor reaction and withdrawal.

“The point is that neither claim can be borne out” he said. “We made
the decision as a committee. We debated the issue. As I understand it,
rBST is still not approved for use in Canada (and) Monsanto and other
research companies have continued to research heavily.”

Storseth accused the Liberals of having a dishonest position,
favoring hearings but then planning to kill the bill in committee.

Atamanenko ended the debate with a plea that MP’s send the proposal for
hearings to weigh the pros and cons of the idea.

*******

Western Producer Editorial

bill c-474 | variety registration rules
Market acceptance bill could stifle development

Bill C-474 introduced by New Democrat MP and agriculture critic Alex
Atamanenko appears a simple, straightforward effort to retain markets
for farmers.

If passed, the variety registration system, which now considers only
agronomic and safety issues, would expand to require an analysis of
potential harm to export markets before permitting the sale of any new
genetically modified seed.

But given the bill’s simplicity, its interpretation could lead either
to irrelevancy or a de facto moratorium on new genetically modified
crops.

This bill should be rejected, but the issues it raises deserve serious
attention.

The key problem with the bill is the unstated threshold of harm that
would prevent introduction of a new GM variety: would a variety be
rejected if it had potential to harm all farmers, a majority or just a
few?

If the threshold is all farmers, then the bill is pointless because
the marketplace already provides safeguards. No company would go to
the expense of developing and registering a GM crop opposed by all.

If the threshold were market damage to just a few farmers, then that
would stop all new GM crops. The combination of zero tolerance for
GMOs in organic markets and the inability to guarantee containment of
GM crops means organic farmers would almost always suffer market
damage when new GM crops are introduced.

So the potential damage suffered by a few would deny the majority of
farmers the potential benefits of new GM crops.

The market, combined with a good relationship between farmers and seed
developers, can provide the right environment to introduce new GM
varieties to the benefit of the majority. An example is the experience in wheat.

When companies first began efforts to develop GM wheat, farmers
reacted negatively. They surveyed markets and concluded most would
reject GM wheat.
They told seed developers they did not want GM varieties and research
in the area all but stopped.

However, wheat growers also regretted the eroding competitiveness of
their crop relative to canola, corn and soybeans, whose yields have
been enhanced by the addition of GM traits.
So in May last year, a coalition of nine wheat industry groups from
the United States, Australia and Canada, including Grain Growers of
Canada, Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association and the Alberta
Winter Wheat Producers Commission, issued a joint statement calling
for investment to resume in biotech wheat research.

The coalition will work to ensure smooth introduction of biotech wheat
by synchronizing regulatory approvals in exporting and importing
countries.

It will take about eight years to develop GM wheat and by then the
majority of buyers in the world might be prepared to accept it. This
is a market-based approach that addresses most concerns about
introducing GM varieties but it does not protect the minority.

Again, we have an example: GM alfalfa.

Monsanto has received registration for Roundup Ready alfalfa in Canada
and the United States.

Most growers produce it to feed livestock and the GM trait does not
affect their market. But a significant minority “those who produce
seed for export, the dehy export market or organic markets” would
suffer market damage.

There should be a way to allow these two systems, GM and non-GM, to
coexist. But to do so will require difficult compromises.

The non-GM sector will have to abandon unworkable zero tolerance
requirements and allow minute GM presence.

The GM sector must accept rigourous stewardship requirements, such as
field isolation, equipment cleaning and the timing of harvest, that
will limit the gene flow of GM crops to protect the integrity of
neighboring non-GM crops.

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)

Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice

– – – –

April 1 2010

Tonight! Debate and oral vote on Bill C-474 at
5:30PM  – Biotech industry lobbies hard against 474

Reminder: The debate and oral vote on Bill C-474 is tonight at 5;30PM
and can be watched live at www.cpac.ca or you can tune into www.cban.ca/474
for results and commentary. (The final recorded vote is April 14 but
tonight’s vote should be decisive.)

Tonight we will find out if the Liberals will support the Bill to go
to the Agriculture Committee for study and amendments or if they will
join the Conservatives in opposing the Bill.

Your letters are having a strong influence. We know this for many
reasons but one is that the biotech industry is very nervous and is
lobbying hard against Bill C-474. They industry association CropLife
is so worried about the influence of your letters that they are
encouraging people to write to their MPs, to mimic the MP letter
action that CBAN has set up! http://www.cban.ca/474action You can take
a look at it on http://www.croplife.ca/web/english/biotechnology/Bill_C-474/
We also know that key Liberal MPs are getting a lot of pressure
from the biotech industry including steady calls to their offices.

CBAN will send an email with the results and next steps – your action
will be needed if the Bill moves to Committee and your action will be
needed if it is killed tonight!

Thank you for your action and continued support at this critical time.

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)

– – – –

March 29, 2010

Dear G.E. Free B.C. Supporter,

Please see below for information on how you can support Bill C-474!

Support Bill C-474 – before Monday March 29, 2010 – Support Canada’s
Farmers! You can stop GE Alfalfa and GE Wheat!

Write a letter to your MP instantly from http://www.cban.ca/474action
Take action this week! before March 29, 2010.

Your actions stopped the Bill from being defeated on March 17. Private
Members Bill C-474 will be debated for a second hour in Parliament
March 29. The vote will happen a few days later. Even if you have
already written your MP, you are encouraged to send
another letter before March 29 http://www.cban.ca/474action

Your concrete action could stop genetically engineered (GE) seeds from
causing chaos in Canadian farming!

Bill C-474 would require that “an analysis of potential harm to export
markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered
seed is permitted.” The Bill could stop GE alfalfa and GE wheat.

This Bill is critically important because, as we know from experience,
the introduction of new genetically engineered (GE) crops can cause
economic hardship to farmers. Farmers are at risk when GE crops are
commercialized in Canada without also being approved in our major
export markets.

Flax farmers in Canada are now paying a heavy price because of this
exact problem. Late last year, Canadian flax exports were discovered
contaminated with a GE flax that is not
approved in Europe or in any
of our other export markets (except the U.S.). Flax farmers actually
foresaw that GE contamination or even the threat of contamination
would close their export markets. That’s why they took steps in 2001
to remove GE flax from the market. Despite this measure, flax farmers
were not protected. The GE flax contamination closed our export
markets in 2009. It has created market uncertainty and depressed
prices. Farmers are also paying for testing and cleanup and may be
required to abandon their own farm-saved flax seed and buy certified
seed instead. These costs are an unnecessary and preventable burden.

We cannot allow GE seeds to harm our export markets. Please support
Bill C-474 and protect Canada’s farmers.

Write a letter to your MP instantly from http://www.cban.ca/474action
Take action before March 29, 2010.

Bill C-474 was introduced by Alex Atamanenko, the NDP Agriculture
Critic and MP for British Columbia Southern Interior.

For updates, more info and action options  see http://www.cban.ca/474
or contact Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network coordinator@cban.ca 613 241 2267 ext. 6

This action alert was issued by the Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network (CBAN) http://www.cban.ca <http://www.cban.ca/>

– – – –

March 26 2010 – Status of Bill C-474

Please see below about the status of Bill C-474 as well as CBAN’s
Opinion Piece on the Bill from this week’s Western Producer. Though
the article states that Liberals will vote for the Bill to be sent to
the Agriculture Committee, in the debate they said they “may” do this
and spoke very badly of the Bill – and we know that they have been
getting a lot of calls from the biotechnology industry this week
pressuring them to vote against it! You can cut and paste the new
action alert on 474 for circulation here: http://www.cban.ca/content/view/full/669

Please see other below articles from the same newspaper on GE alfalfa
and Europe’s GE policy – all of these issues are connected to Bill
C-464. It is great to see so much coverage of, and debate over, GE
issues in the farm press.

Below are also two articles (again from the same paper) about the
rudeness of many MPs at the Agriculture Committee! This is something
CBAN experienced when we testified last year on GE, and we hope this
won’t happen if Bill C-474 does go to the Committee for study.

*******

Western Producer, March 25, 2010

Bill moves closer to adding market impact to GM review
Private member’s bill | Opposition pushing it through House

The House of Commons is expected to approve in principle a proposal
that any new genetically modified variety be subjected to a market
impact assessment before being approved.

The proposal comes in private member’s Bill C-474 sponsored by New
Democrat agriculture critic Alex Atamanenko and debated for the first
time March 17.

The bill will have one more hour of debate before a vote, possibly
before summer recess in June.

The Conservative minority government fiercely opposes the bill.
Liberals argued it is flawed but they will vote to send it to the
Commons agriculture committee for study.

New Democrat and Bloc Quebecois MPs say they support it, giving the bill enough support to get to committee if all opposition MPs show up to vote.
Atamanenko said approval of new GM varieties that major markets like
Europe refuse to accept would hurt Canadian farmers. He cited markets
closed to Canadian flax because of the presence of trace amounts of an
deregistered GM flax variety, Triffid.

The NDP critic said Canada should follow Argentina’s lead and add a
market impact study to the scientific assessment that now governs GM
variety approvals. Introduction of GM alfalfa or wheat could close
international markets and ruin the ability of organic alfalfa and
wheat producers to export, he argued.

“We need to have a very close, objective look at what the market
reality is for Canadian farmers” said the British Columbia MP. “The
reality in the world today is an unending controversy over (genetic
engineering) that is impacting our export markets.”

Conservatives reacted furiously, insisting the bill would undermine
Canada’s argument that foreign countries should not use non-scientific
political arguments to close markets.

Saskatchewan MP David Anderson said the proposal is anti-farmer and a
dangerous departure from science-based variety assessments. He said it
is part of the NDP anti-GM agenda.

Anderson also said Atamanenko’s reference to Triffid is a red herring
meant to scare farmers.

Liberal Frank Valeriote, representing the Guelph, Ont., riding, spent
most of his speech berating the Atamanenko proposal for undermining
the scientific standard.

“If enacted as it is currently worded, the bill risks wide-ranging,
unintended and undesirable consequences” he said.

Yet he announced that the Liberals will vote for it so a debate can
take place at the agriculture committee.

The proposal for a market impact component to seed variety licensing
divided the farm lobby.

The National Farmers Union endorsed the bill.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture said the bill should be sent to
committee for debate.

“The CFA supports government decision making based on the rigorous
application of science but also recognizes the volatility that can
occur in some markets when political considerations on GM crops are
deemed more important than scientific approval” said president
Laurent Pellerin.

Grain Growers of Canada executive director Richard Phillips said the
bill should not be supported.

“We believe in the principles of the rigors of sound science and do
not want to see that eroded” he said. “We would not object to the
committee having a debate on this but having the Commons approve this
bill in principle would give proponents and the idea legitimacy that
we don’t think it has.”

After the Commons debate, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network co-
ordinator Lucy Sharratt said Anderson was wrong to say the Atamanenko
bill would not affect the Triffid issue.
“It was registered and then deregistered so this bill would have
forced a consideration of market impact when it was registered” she
said.

*******

GM, not Bill C-474, a risk to industry
Opinion, Western Producer, March 25, 2010
Lucy Sharratt, co-ordinator for the Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network, provides another view on GM bill proposal

Bill C-474 is not, as Rick White of the Canadian Canola Growers
Association argued in this space March 18, a “significant threat to
the future competitiveness of our industry.” The issue here is not the
future of canola but of other crops that don’t incorporate genetically
modified traits.

The threat to competitiveness in these other industries comes from GM
crops themselves if we don?t start considering the reality in our
export markets.

Bill C-474 would require that “an analysis of potential harm to export
markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered
seed is permitted.” The bill responds to the fact that if GM crops are
commercially released in Canada but are not also approved for safety
in our export markets, farmers will lose those markets.

The global reality is that GM is controversial. This controversy is
not going away and directly impacts the state of our export markets.
The controversy over GM translates into the undeniable fact that
applying GM technology to some crops can severely damage those
industries. We have the unfortunate evidence of Canadian flax.
In last week’s House of Commons debate over Bill C-474, sponsor Alex
Atamanenko, an NDP MP, spoke to the fact that GM flax was taken off
the market at the behest of flax farmers precisely to protect export markets.

But Conservative MP and agriculture committee member David Anderson
accused Atamanenko of misleading farmers and Canadians with his
description of the flax crisis and said, “I think he is doing that in
order to scare the farm community.”

Both the Liberals and Conservatives argued that the bill would not
have saved the flax industry. They seem to be basing this conclusion
on incorrect information that GM flax “was never approved for sale in
Canada” as stated by MP Francis Valeriote in a March 17 debate.

But Triffid was approved, first for human consumption and
environmental release and then for commercial release via variety
registration. Triffid was deregistered in 2001.

It was deregistered for the express purpose of protecting Canada’s
major flax export market of Europe. The fact that the GM flax was
deregistered before farmers had a chance to grow the crop is a moot
point.

The fact remains that farmers were reproducing the GM flax, 200,000
bushels of which were crushed in 2001, for the market because Triffid
was commercially approved and this commercial approval resulted in
widespread contamination that has damaged flax export markets.

Ten years ago, flax farmers had the foresight to know that GM flax
would ruin their largest export market. Should we not ask the
government to include this question before approving GM traits in
other crops?

Canola is not at risk here. Canola is arguably not even relevant to
this question.

The canola industry does not need to worry about the outcome of market
assessments because as White says, “the Canadian canola industry has
been able to double exports in the last decade.”

The fact is that some farmers, wheat and alfalfa growers, for example, have a lot to lose from the introduction of GM traits.

What government in the world will risk their farmers being swept away
by inappropriately applied GM technology?

Last week, David Anderson called this bill “anti-farmer” but it seems
to me that introducing GM crops that will destroy export markets is
“anti-farmer.”

The CCGA argues that Bill C-474 would introduce “subjective criteria”
into the seed variety approval process. However, surveying export
market acceptance for GM wheat, for example, is not a subjective
exercise. Nor is listing the regulatory status of GM crops in other
countries.

Allowing the commercial release of GM crops that we know will close or
damage our export markets undermines all other attempts to preserve
and expand our markets.

The CCGA may “encourage industry and government to work together to
develop international low-level presence policies” but this is wishful
thinking rather than an actionable plan. Zero tolerance is a scientific decision that would be extremely hard for any country to justify overturning.

If Canadian farmers foresee economic disaster with the introduction of
a GM crop, then the government should have a mechanism available to
address that before farmers are left to deal with the fallout.

It’s not too late for the federal government to respond to the flax
crisis by making sure this scenario is not repeated in other crops. It
is only responsible that MPs support Bill C-474 for farmers and for
Canada’s economy. We should all urge our MPs to support this bill.

– – – –

March 22, 2010

Action Alert #2:

Support Bill C-474 before Monday March 29, 2010 – Support Canada’s
Farmers! You can stop GE Alfalfa and GE Wheat!

Write a letter to your MP instantly from http://www.cban.ca/474action
Take action this week! before March 29, 2010.

Your actions gave the Bill another chance! Private Members Bill C-474
will be debated for a second hour in Parliament March 29. The vote
will happen a few days later. Even if you have already written your
MP, you are encouraged to send another letter before March 29 http://www.cban.ca/474action

Your concrete action could stop genetically engineered (GE) seeds from
causing chaos in Canadian farming!

Bill C-474 would require that “an analysis of potential harm to export
markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered
seed is permitted.” The Bill could stop GE alfalfa and GE wheat.

This Bill is critically important because, as we know from experience,
the introduction of new genetically engineered (GE) crops can cause
economic hardship to farmers. Farmers are at risk when GE crops are
commercialized in Canada without also being approved in our major
export markets.

Flax farmers in Canada are now paying a heavy price because of this
exact problem. Late last year, Canadian flax exports were discovered
contaminated with a GE flax that is not approved in Europe or in any
of our other export markets (except the U.S.). Flax farmers actually
foresaw that GE contamination or even the threat of contamination
would close their export markets. That’s why they took steps in 2001
to remove GE flax from the market. Despite this measure, flax farmers
were not protected. The GE flax contamination closed our export
markets in 2009. It has created market uncertainty and depressed
prices. Farmers are also paying for testing and cleanup and may be
required to abandon their own farm-saved flax seed and buy certified
seed instead. These costs are an unnecessary and preventable burden.

We cannot allow GE seeds to harm our export markets. Please support
Bill C-474 and protect Canada’s farmers.

Write a letter to your MP instantly from http://www.cban.ca/474action
Take action before March 29, 2010.

Bill C-474 was introduced by Alex Atamanenko, the NDP Agriculture
Critic and MP for British Columbia Southern Interior.

For updates, more info and action options  see http://www.cban.ca/474
or contact Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network coordinator@cban.ca 613 241 2267 ext. 6

This action alert was issued by the Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network (CBAN) http://www.cban.ca

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)

– – – –

March 19, 2010: Thank you and congratulations to everyone who wrote letters to your MPs! Bill C-474 lives another day, thanks to you!

Your actions made sure this Bill was not defeated yesterday, instead
it will to be debated one more time before you MP votes! This vote
could take place in April, or sooner.

What happened and what does it mean?

Last night, MPs debated Bill C-474 for one hour. Support for the Bill
was not strong enough to fast-track the Bill to debate in the
Agriculture Committee but the debate in the House of Commons will
continue – this is because the Liberal Party essentially spoke in
opposition to the Bill but left the door open to more debate. There
will be another hour of debate in April (or sooner) followed by a vote
on the Bill. If MPs vote for the Bill it will go to the Agriculture
Committee for study and amendments. If MPs vote against the Bill, the
Bill dies.  You can see CBAN’s unofficial notes from the debate at http://www.cban.ca/Take-Action/Act-Now/Bill-C-474-Debate-and-Results-Blog
You will see that the Liberal Party based their position on
incorrect information about GE flax and how the contamination crisis
happened. (We will send more info soon)

Why is Bill C-474 still in “second reading”?:  The Liberal Party is
not ready to commit enough support to Bill C-474. (Your action over
the next weeks could convince them.)
The Conservative Party is opposed to Bill C-474 – Conservative MP
David Anderson (Saskatchewan) called the Bill “anti-farmer” – he is
Assistant Agriculture Critic and is Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board.

You are encouraged to write your MP a second time to tell them you
were following the debate – CBAN will provide more information soon.

Your actions will continue to make a difference.  Here are the great
actions you have taken so far! :
2193 letters were sent to MPs through the CBAN website!
620 signatures were delivered to the constituency office of Michael
Ignatieff, Leader of the Official Opposition, in Toronto.
154 signatures on petitions were presented to the office of Larry
Miller Conservative MP and Chair of the Agriculture Committee – Larry
Miller spoke against the Bill but took a more reasoned approach than
MP David Anderson who said that the Bill was “anti-farmer”
90 signatures were sent to Hon. John Duncan, Conservative MP Vancouver
Island North.
92 signatures were presented to Conservative Ontario MP Pierre
Poilievre (Nepean-Carleton), Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime
Minister
150 signatures went to the constituency office of Russ Hiebert,
Conservative MP in BC (South Surrey-White Rock).

Please let us know about any actions you have taken.

More actions you can take:

– The petition can be downloaded from http://www.cban.ca/474 This
petition is designed for delivery to your local MP. You can ask your
MP to  present your petition in the House of Commons, this means that
MPs hear more about support Bill C-474 and your petition is one record.
– New Bill C-474 flyers will be available for download soon.
– The campaign to stop GE alfalfa will continue and action options are
at http://www.cban.ca/alfalfa
– Your tax-deductible donations will help CBAN continue this work with
you and people across the country http://www.cban.ca/donate

CBAN will send more action info and a more full analysis of the debate
when the transcripts are available. http://www.cban.ca/474

Thank you for your continued action and support at this critical time!

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)

– – – –

MARCH 16, 2010

NEW GM VARIETIES MUST PASS MARKET IMPACT ASSESSMENT:
BILL C-474 CRITICAL TO PROTECTING FARMERS

SASKATOON, Sask.—The NFU would like to urge all Parliamentarians and, indeed, all Canadians to support private member’s Bill C-474.  If passed, the Bill will “amend the Seeds Regulations to require that an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.”

NFU President Terry Boehm said that if genetically modified (GM) crops have potential negative impacts, they should not be released.  “This market harm assessment is something that must be done and something that would help prevent the huge economic harm visited upon farmers, and the country as a whole, by GM contamination,” said Boehm.

Bill C-474 was introduced by NDP MP and Agriculture Critic Alex Atamanenko.  The Bill comes up for second reading and debate on Wednesday, March 17.  “This is a chance for MPs to make a difference, by supporting Bill C-474 when it comes to a vote following second reading,” said Boehm.

He continued: “If we had used a market-harm criterion for assessing GM crops, we may have avoided the disaster we are experiencing with GM-contaminated flax.  Flax prices have collapsed and markets have closed because of contamination by an old GM variety of flax called Triffid.  This variety passed through our regulatory system unimpeded—and would pass through today—because there is no regard for market consequences in our system.  We are potentially looking at GM wheat and GM alfalfa on the horizon and the negative market consequences exemplified by the flax experience will be repeated if we do not regard the market impact of GM varieties,” said Boehm.

For several years, and in many venues, the NFU has advanced the case that potential market harm to farmers must be a core consideration when assessing GM varieties.  The NFU worked to have market impact retained as a criterion in the Prairie Registration Recommending Committee for Grains (PRRCG) process.  NFU officials worked in the CWB’s RIONAP (Responsible Introduction Of New Agricultural Products) process to get a market harm assessment framework put into place in Canada.  And the NFU has written to government Ministers over the past six years asking for the same process.

Boehm concluded: “GM crops cannot be called back once released into the environment.  Many of our markets, particularly premium markets, do not want these crops.  Agricultural crops are a huge part of the Canadian economy.  And if we continue to contaminate our fields with GM varieties without regard for market consequences, we will all suffer.”
— 30 —
For More Information:
Terry Boehm, NFU President:               (306) 255-2880
Darrin Qualman, Director of Research:   (306) 652-9465

– – – –

March 16, 2010

PRESS RELEASE Ottawa. Tuesday, March 16, 2010

GE Crops: Parliament to debate the need for export market acceptance before commercial release.

Tomorrow, Parliament will debate Private Members Bill C-474 to require
that “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted
before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.”

“The Bill is necessary to protect farmers from economic harm caused by
the release of GE seeds that are not approved in our export markets”
said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network, a coalition of 17 groups.

The Bill was introduced by Alex Atamanenko, NDP Agriculture Critic and
MP for British Columbia Southern Interior. It will be debated on Wed.
March 17 at 5:30PM and if it passes this “second reading” will be
studied by the House Agriculture Committee.

“As we see with the current flax contamination crisis, GE crops can
shut down our export markets” said Sharratt. “Wishful thinking about
future approvals of GE crops in other countries or an end to zero-
tolerance for contamination in Europe is not going to change the
current reality in our export markets. There is an unceasing
controversy over GE crops in countries that represent valuable export
markets for Canadian crops.”

“The Bill finally begins a real debate over the negative economic
impacts of GE crops and the threat GE poses to Canada’s agriculture
sector into the future” said Devlin Kuyek, also with CBAN, “Bill
C-474 would fill a gaping hole in Canada’s regulation that would allow
GE alfalfa or GE wheat onto the market despite the economic
devastation such crops would cause.”

“GE contamination is already costing the taxpayer” said Sharratt.
“The fact that the Harper Government recently pledged up to $1.9
million to help companies pay for testing flax seed is evidence that
GE contamination can cost the Canadian government and this is
without the government compensating farmers for their testing costs or
market loss. Contamination is inevitable and these costs will keep
reoccurring.”

“We cannot allow our export markets to be damaged like this again”
said Terry Boehm, President of the National Farmers Union and a flax
farmer, “It’s the government’s responsibility to protect Canadian
farmers from predictable trade problems caused by the introduction of
new GE crops that have not yet been regulated in our export markets.”

For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, CBAN, 613 241 2267
ext.6 or cell 613 263 9511; Devlin Kuyek, CBAN, cell 514 571 7702;
Terry Boehm, National Farmers Union 306 255 2880

– – – –

March 4, 2010

Support Bill C-474 – Support Canada’s Farmers!  You can stop GE
Alfalfa and GE Wheat!

Write a letter to your MP instantly from http://www.cban.ca/474action

Your concrete action could stop genetically engineered (GE) seeds from
causing chaos in Canadian farming!

Bill C-474 would require that “an analysis of potential harm to export
markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered
seed is permitted.” The Bill could stop GE alfalfa and GE wheat.

Private Members Bill C-474 is currently scheduled for debate in
Parliament March 17.

This Bill is critically important because, as we know from experience,
the introduction of new genetically engineered (GE) crops can cause
economic hardship to farmers.

Farmers are at risk when GE crops are commercialized in Canada without
also being approved in our major export markets.

Flax farmers in Canada are now paying a heavy price because of this
exact problem. Late last year, Canadian flax exports were discovered
contaminated with a GE flax that is not approved in Europe or in any
of our other export markets (except the U.S.). Flax farmers actually
foresaw that GE contamination or even the threat of contamination
would close their export markets. That’s why they took steps in 2001
to remove GE flax from the market. Despite this measure, flax farmers
were not protected. The GE flax contamination closed our export
markets in 2009. It has created market uncertainty and depressed
prices. Farmers are also paying for testing and cleanup and may be
required to abandon their own farm-saved flax seed and buy certified
seed instead. These costs are an unnecessary and preventable burden.

We cannot allow GE seeds to harm our export markets. Please support
Bill C-474 and protect Canada’s farmers.

Bill C-474 was introduced by Alex Atamanenko, the NDP Agriculture
Critic and MP for British Columbia Southern Interior.

For more action options and information see http://www.cban.ca/474 or
contact Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network coordinator@cban.ca 613 241 2267 ext. 6

This action alert was issued by the Canadian Biotechnology Action
Network (CBAN) http://www.cban.ca

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
coordinator@cban.ca
www.cban.ca

Support Bill C-474, Support Canada’s Farmers!
Write to your MP instantly from http://www.cban.ca/474action

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One response to “Bill C-474: Chronological Order

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