Tuesday April 2, 2013. Ottawa. Today, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network released a new report documenting the means by which genetically modified (GM) alfalfa will contaminate non-GM alfalfa and hay crops in Ontario, if GM alfalfa is released in Eastern Canada.
“We can clearly see how farmers will pay the heavy costs of this inevitable contamination,” said Ontario organic sheep and vegetable farmer Ann Slater, member of the National Farmers Union, “The only way to stop contamination from GM alfalfa is to keep it off the market.”
Alfalfa is an important crop for dairy farming in Ontario as well as for livestock farmers and vegetable and field crop producers. Some Ontario farmers also save alfalfa seed.
The report details the role of seeds, pollen, and volunteer/feral plants in the predicted contamination of non-GM alfalfa from GM alfalfa. If released, GM alfalfa would be the first GM perennial crop introduced in Canada. “While the conditions for contamination in Eastern Canada differ from those in Western Canada where alfalfa seed is produced, contamination in Ontario is assured, as are the economic costs to farmers,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
“Our report documents the many means by which farmers can expect to see contamination from GM alfalfa. Contamination is assured, the only question is how long it will take and which will be the first or primary means of gene escape,” said Taarini Chopra, also with the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
“This report puts an end to discussions about coexistence with GM alfalfa, its just not possible.” said Phillip Woodhouse, President of the Ontario Grey County NFU local 344 who also attended an October 2012 meeting of the Canadian Seed Trade Association where the industry attempted to construct a coexistence plan to pave the way for GM alfalfa. “Forage Genetics International appears willing to sacrifice the livelihoods of Ontario farmers to get their product on the market somewhere in Canada.”
“No farmer can shield themselves from this genetic pollution. Does anyone really believe that introducing GM alfalfa into Eastern Canada will protect Prairie farmers from this contamination?” added Woodhouse.
The National Farmers Union-Ontario has called for consumers to support farmers in a Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa on April 9. Ontario farmers have organized protest rallies in 12 communities, outside of constituency offices of federal Members of Parliament as well as outside the Variety Registration office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Ottawa where a final rubber-stamp to release Roundup Ready alfalfa is expected any day. There are also 11 rallies confirmed in support of Ontario farmers happening in towns in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan (at the office of the Minister of Agriculture), Quebec, and Nova Scotia.
For more information: Ann Slater, National Farmers Union, 519-349-2448; Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network 613 241 2267 ext 25, Phillip Woodhouse, National Farmers Union, 519 599 5041.
The report “The Inevitability of Contamination from GM Alfalfa Release in Ontario” can be found at www.cban.ca/alfalfaONreport
GM Alfalfa Contamination: Report Summary
The Inevitability of Contamination From GM Alfalfa Release in Ontario:
The case for preventing the introduction of Roundup Ready alfalfa
A report from the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network
Available at www.cban.ca/alfalfaONreport
report-summary-nov revised.pdf 1.05 MB
The Inevitability of Contamination from GM Alfalfa Release in Ontario
The case for preventing the introduction of Roundup Ready alfalfa. April 2, 2013. Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. 20 pages.
This report is specific to the contamination risk if GM alfalfa is released in Ontario but the details are also widely applicable across Canada because:
- the same conditions for contamination are true across the country, with some technical variations
- contamination in any province is a threat to other parts of the country
- while the company Forage Genetics International says they will only introduce GM alfalfa in Eastern Canada for now, there is no guarantee of this into the future.