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US approves controversial GE Alfalfa – Organic sector threatened

Ecological Farmers of Ontario

5420 Highway 6 North ● RR 5 ● Guelph, ON ● N1H 6J2 ● 519-822-8606 ● www.efao.ca


February 1, 2011

U.S. Decision on GE Alfalfa Concerns Ontario’s Ecological Farmers
– “Organic Farmers Need Bill C-474”

Members of Ecological Farmers of Ontario (EFO) expressed sadness and outrage upon learning
that genetically-engineered (GE) alfalfa has been approved in the United States. According to
EFO member and Balderson area organic farmer, Maureen Bostock, “Clear evidence was
presented to the U.S. government that genetic contamination of alfalfa seed stocks within 5 years
is inevitable. Even knowing this, the decision to allow GE Alfalfa to be grown went ahead,
disregarding the rights of farmers to grow crops without genetic contamination.”

If GE alfalfa receives varietal registration and goes into production in Canada, the organic sector
will be devastated. As an insect pollinated crop it will be next to impossible to prevent
contamination of organic and non-GE alfalfa if GE alfalfa is fully released in Canada, as
happened with the contamination of organic canola in western Canada. Canada’s organic
farmers use alfalfa extensively as feed for dairy cows, other livestock and as part of the crop
rotation for soil building purposes on grain and vegetable farms. Organic alfalfa sprout
production and alfalfa pellets for export – a burgeoning market – will also be threatened.

Bill C-474 will be debated and voted on in the House of Commons in early February. According
to Bostock, this bill could provide the government with some teeth to ensure that genetically
engineered crops are properly reviewed prior to their release on the basis of the economic harm
they can do to other crops. If passed, 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

Testimony by farmers and farm organizations in the fall of 2010 showed clearly the markets
which will not accept alfalfa products if GE alfalfa is introduced to Canada. While demand for
organic food continues to grow in the Canadian food marketplace, the Canadian government is
turning a blind eye to protecting farmers whose livelihoods depend on the protecting organic and
non-GE crops from genetic contamination.

“It is very clear why we desperately need Bill 474 to be passed in the House of Commons next
week”, said Bostock. Bostock went on to note that herbicides are not currently used in alfalfa
production, but that the biotechnology industry has focused on this, the fourth largest crop in
North America, as a market for its glyphosate technology. She concluded, “Without Bill C-474,
there is no mechanism in Canada to assess the market harm such an introduction could cause.”

Ecological Farmers of Ontario was established in 1979, helping Ontario farmers improve the
health of the soil, water, crops, livestock and the diversity of the environment.

For more information, please contact:

Maureen Bostock , 613-259-5757, maureenbostock@hotmail.com

Ann Slater, 519-349-2448, aslater@quadro.net

This is a single weblog entry, posted on February 2nd, 2011. Comment here »

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