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Family farms and organic food at risk from genetically modified alfalfa

Monday February 13, 2012 – Today, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), with the support of organic sector groups and businesses, launched a 3-minute animated YouTube videoto educate consumers about the threat of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa to the future of family farms.

“GM alfalfa is an urgent threat to all kinds of farmers in Canada and will impact many of the foods we eat. If our Government let’s GM alfalfa onto the market it will quickly contaminate farmers’ fields,” said Lucy Sharratt of the CBAN. “We’re asking people to write to the Minister of Agriculture and demand that he stop the introduction of this unwanted GM crop. Canadians need to take urgent action to support farmers across the country who are already demanding a halt to GM alfalfa.”

It is not yet legal to sell the seeds in Canada, though GM alfalfa was approved as safe by Canadian regulators in 2005. Monsanto’s herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) technology was applied to alfalfa by the company Forage Genetics International.

“Consumers need to know why alfalfa is important so they can take action to protect family farms and our food supply from Monsanto’s GM alfalfa,” said Jodi Koberinski of the Organic Council of Ontario.
CBAN launched the film to help consumers understand what alfalfa is and how it is critically connected to many different types of foods including dairy, meat and grains. The video focuses on the threat of GM alfalfa while educating consumers about farming, organic food, the role of pollinators, and the problems of contamination and corporate patents. The film can be viewed at

“The animated video is the perfect tool to help people understand the vital role of alfalfa in food and farming, particularly organics,” said Patrick Conner of The Big Carrot Natural Market in Toronto. The video was supported by The Big Carrot Natural Market, DeDell Seeds Incorporated, Green Being Farm, Nature’s Path Foods, the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, Organic Council of Ontario, and Smiley Guy Studios. Ontario organic farmer and professional animator Nathan Carey, with Smiley Guy Studios in Toronto, produced the video for CBAN.

“The cartoon bee is the perfect character to warn about the inevitability of GM contamination because alfalfa is pollinated by bees,” said Maureen Kirkpatrick of The Big Carrot, who is also the voice of the bee in the video. “We chose a positive tone on this serious issue because we can still stop GM alfalfa in Canada and we need to inspire action,” said Sharratt. “If we work together we can stop unwanted corporate seeds and protect family farms from patented GM contamination.”

For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext 25; Jodi Koberinski, Organic Council of Ontario, 519 827 1221: Patrick Conner, The Big Carrot, cell 647 200 7591. Note to editors: The YouTube film can be viewed from Screen shots from the film are available upon request from Lucy Sharratt