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Ontario Farmers Take Action

Meet the two farmers who have asked the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario to take up a review of genetically engineered herbicide tolerant alfalfa.

Dianne Dowling

Farm description: We are members of the Organic Meadow Co-operative and have a certified organic dairy farm east of Kingston, Ontario. We have farmed organically since the mid 1980s. Our farm has been certified organic for 19 years and our dairy herd certified for 12 years.

Dianne is also president of the National Farmers Union Local 316 – Frontenac, Lennox-Addington

What Dianne says: “Our family has been active in the local farm and food movement in the Kingston area for over a decade, and we are very familiar with the aspirations and expectations of people involved in that movement. The trust that has developed between local farmers and local eaters is based on knowing how the food is grown and what is in the food. People want food that is grown as naturally as possible, that is uncontaminated with chemicals and GMOs, and that has had as little impact as possible on the environment. We do not want to risk having GMOs in any part of the food chain and in the environment.”

“If Roundup Ready alfalfa were grown near our farm, we could be affected by contamination of other species in our fields, or by the use of other pesticides that could be used to compensate for Roundup-resistant weeds.”

Dave Lewington

Farm Description: Dave and Chantal Lewington, and their children Caleb, Jacob, Olivia and Emma, own and operate Dalew Farms near Sudbury Ontario. They sell a wide variety of vegetables, chicken, grassfed beef and pork, and operate a Community Shared Agriculture. Dave grew up on a pig farm in southern Ontario and interned himself on a vegetable farm.

Dave Lewington is also Vice President of National Farmers Union Local 333 – NFU-O North.

Their beef is grass-fed on a rotational pasture. Each day, Dave moves his cattle herd to a different section of his 100-acre farm. Once the cows have eaten all the prime grass they are moved to a new section. Dave follows the cattle with his chickens, who search the cow paddies for bugs and spread the manure, which improves the soil over time. “Rotationally grazing cattle is an excellent way to reclaim some sort of in-between or marginal land,” Lewington said. “We want to make sure we leave our farm, or our land, better for our kids than the way we found it.” (Except from an article in The Sudbury Star)

What Dave says: “GM alfalfa would be the first perennial GM crop released in Canada and that creates another whole new set of headaches for farmers like us who want to avoid GM crops. We have alfalfa on our farm in hay fields and pastures where we have never planted any alfalfa! If another farmer in the community plants GM alfalfa it is inevitable that ours will be cross pollinated and contaminated by that GM alfalfa, and then guess what, we suddenly have GM alfalfa growing on our farm.”