Monday December 4, 2006, Ottawa – On Friday December 1st in Winnipeg, a representative from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada admitted that the department has no capacity to assess the social and economic impacts of Terminator seeds – seeds genetically engineered to be sterile after first planting – before introducing them into Canada.
Speaking at a seed sector meeting, Andrea Johnston, Chief, Strategic Policy Development, Agriculture Canada, revealed that the Canadian government has no mechanism to evaluate the impacts of Terminator seeds on Canadian farmers. Instead, Ms Johnston stated that the government will leave the assessment to the marketplace, and restated, “That’s how we do it now.”
In March 2006, the Canadian government agreed to a global consensus that reaffirmed and strengthened a decision which most other governments see as a moratorium on Terminator seeds, at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The language of the moratorium recommends that commercializing Terminator not even be considered until governments fully assess the economic and social impacts.
“Leaving assessment of Terminator’s impact on farmers to the marketplace is absurdly irresponsible and would leave farmers at the mercy of every seed company that wants to enhance its control over the market,” said Colleen Ross, Women’s President of the National Farmers Union. “Farmers in Canada have not been heard yet by this government on the issue of Terminator seeds.” Ms Ross added, “Fertility and germination is foundationally important to farming and survival.”
“Even now, the Canadian government is working at cross-purposes with the global moratorium,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, “Clearly the government does not understand the full extent of world opposition to Terminator and the current global political will behind the moratorium.”
The revelation comes just days before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food will hold a hearing on the issue of Terminator technology, Thursday December 7th.
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267; Colleen Ross, Women’s President, National Farmers Union, Cell: 613 213 1522