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9-Misc: Canadian Wheat Board director defends his contacts with Monsanto



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TITLE:  Candidate battles NFU allegations
SOURCE: Meridian Booster Lloydminster, Canada, by Dana Smith
http://www.meridianbooster.com/BranchSites/story.lasso?RID=
39404&onlinenumber=021
DATE:   Nov 20, 2002

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


Candidate battles NFU allegations

Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) director hopeful Greg Porozni is on the 
defensive following questions from the National Farmer's Union (NFU) of his 
involvement with a Monsanto advisory committee. NFU president Stewart Wells 
said high-profile farmers from commodity organizations who signed on to an 
advisory committee with Monsanto, which included a confidentiality 
agreement, made them independent contractors to the company. Among them is 
District 5 director candidate Porozni, who the NFU said was in a conflict 
of interest. Porozni calls the allegations ridiculous, and said being paid 
$150 18 months ago to be on an advisory committee doesn't qualify him as a 
contractor to Monsanto.

Wells contends the function of this panel was to assist in ensuring the 
positive entry of Round-up ready wheat into Canada. "Our objection to this 
was that most, or all, of the farmers were recruited from high-profile 
organizations or people like Mr. Porozni, who were already running for 
director's positions on the Canadian Wheat Board," said Wells. "Our 
contention was, and still is, that if these people did not identify 
themselves as independent contractors for Monsanto when they sent out their 
biographies for perspective voters, and clearly identified themselves. They 
were holding information back and could probably be in a conflict of 
interest situation."

Wells said, while Porozni has been vocal in defending his opposition in the 
Monsanto meetings, he is not the only one whose actions with Monsanto are 
being scrutinized. "The wheat board directors have to file conflict of 
interest disclosure forms ... We contacted the elections coordinator to try 
and sort this out, and we’re, at the moment, disappointed in the response 
we have been getting," he said adding that he was told by the elections co-
ordinator if there appears to be a conflict of interest, he would allow 
candidates to file an updated version of their disclosure statement. "This 
means to me, if you are a farmer that wants to run for these elections, any 
thing goes until you're caught."

Wells said the NFU will likely try to appeal the decision of the election 
coordinator, but isn't sure what form that action might take. "Nobody has 
really been in this situation, it's unchartered waters … but we're 
certainly not happy or content from the answers we have been getting," he 
said. But Porozni said he did nothing out of the ordinary and certainly 
nothing that could be deemed a conflict of interest, as is being claimed by 
the NFU. Porozni said the allegations boil down to nothing but dirty 
politics.

"All they (Monsanto) wanted was our opinions regarding Round-up Ready 
wheat," said Porozni, who added that he was approached because of his 
extensive background in agriculture and agriculture groups. "They wanted to 
take knowledgeable farmers that know the background of the industry and are 
forward-thinking guys, and they wanted a good, open-minded perspective on 
this."

Porozni said his involvement with the advisory committee began two years 
ago at a meeting in Calgary, and a follow-up meeting 18 months ago in 
Edmonton, where he received a $150 per-day honorarium for his 
participation, which he says is nothing out of the ordinary. "That happens 
in all kinds of agriculture. I've been paid honorariums for all kinds of 
different committees that I've served on, this is not out of the ordinary," 
he said. "I didn't have an agenda when I went in, and I don't when I came 
out." Porozni maintains the same position as the CWB in that he doesn't 
support the introduction of Round-up Ready wheat.

"Until there is market acceptance, we cannot put this thing through, 
there's just not a chance – I'm clear on that. I've always stated that, and 
I haven't changed my opinion," he said. "The confidentiality agreement I 
never did sign. I don't think it's big issue, it doesn't really matter 
whether I signed it or not," he said. "That's not right ... If you get $150 
a day per diem a year-and-half ago, that puts you under contract with 
Monsanto? I don't think so, not a chance."

Porozni said those on the advisory committee were not asked to promote the 
product by Monsanto, instead they were asked for advice in launching the 
product to the market. "This is dirty politics … they are afraid of my 
position (as a dual-market supporter). This has nothing to do with Round-up 
Ready wheat."



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