Friday, March 3, 2017. Charlottetown – Today, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Kids Right to Know, the Council of Canadians and Earth Action PEI are alerting teachers and students about corporate public relations inside “Agriculture in the Classroom” activities, in particular a webinar on March 7 to promote a recently approved genetically modified (GM) apple. (1)
“This webinar is blatant corporate product promotion for the GM apple. It’s certainly not a neutral presentation of genetic modification to students,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
The webinar is being promoted as part of Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month. The program “Agriculture in the Classroom” is sponsored by four of the top six largest seed and pesticide companies in the world (Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, Dupont, and Bayer). (2) Together these four companies own 36% of the global commercial seed market and 54% of the global pesticide market.
“This corporate intrusion into our schools is unacceptable,” said former high-school teacher and administrator, and Vice-Chair of the Council of Canadians, Leo Broderick, “We can’t let corporations teach our students and we are calling on all provincial Ministers of Education to put a halt to this webinar and protect students from this corporate propaganda.”
The webinar comes with a pre-webinar lesson plan for teachers that incorrectly states that the Arctic Apple is “available to eat!” (3) The company does not plan to release the GM apple in the Canadian market this year but is test-marketing bags of sliced GM apples in 10 stores in the US. (4) The lesson plan gives this incorrect information at the same time that it encourages students to discuss “how important it is to make informed decisions which are based on fact.”
“The company is just trying to create a market for its GM apples. We deserve better information about this technology,” said high-school student Rachel Parent who is also the founder of Kids Right to Know which advocates for mandatory labelling of GM foods, “If the company wants students to be informed then it should plan to clearly label its apple as genetically modified, and keep out of our classrooms.”
Apples are the most common fruit eaten by teens and kids. “This is an industry attempting to manufacture a need for its product by implanting the idea in school children that browning apples are not fit to eat,” said Sharon Labchuk of Earth Action PEI. “The Arctic Apple seems destined for the sliced and bagged fresh apple market. Eating whole apples is better for the environment and our health, but fresh sliced apples dipped in Vitamin C to prevent browning are already available in grocery stores.”
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 809 1103; Leo Broderick, Council of Canadians, 902 894 4874, Rachel Parent, Kids Right to Know, 416 554 5302; Sharon Labchuk, Earth Action PEI, 902 626 7327.
- The advertisement for the webinar can be seen here: http://www.aitc.ca/bc/news/119/56/Canadian-Agriculture-Literacy-Month
- The list of foundational sponsors of Agriculture in the Classroom can be viewed here http://www.aitc-canada.ca/en/index.html
- The lesson plan can be seen here: http://www.aitc.ca/bc/uploads/CALM%20Live%20Stream%20Pre-Activity.pdf
- For details see www.cban.ca/apple