Ottawa. Tuesday, March 16, 2010 – 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