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2-Plants: Council of Canadians will launch an all-out attack against GE wheat

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TITLE:  Council will launch an all-out attack against GE wheat
SOURCE: The Council of Canadians
DATE:   Jan 9, 2003

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Council will launch an all-out attack against GE wheat

OTTAWA, ONTARIO - Concerned with the increasing pressure mounted by the 
biotechnology industry on the federal government, the Council of Canadians 
is launching an all-out attack to raise awareness regarding genetically 
engineered wheat.

The last few weeks have been fertile in biotechnology-related events. 
First, Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser has filed an appeal to the 
Supreme Court, asking that the Federal Court decision to uphold his guilty 
verdict in the case opposing him to Monsanto for alleged violation of 
patent rights on GE canola. Then, the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate 
filed a $14-million class action suit against Monsanto and Aventis as a 
result of the large degree of crop contamination by GE canola.

More recently, Monsanto Canada, a biotechnology company, applied to the 
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for approval of the environmental 
release of genetically engineered wheat. An application has also been filed 
at the same time to U.S. regulators.

Part of these efforts will be a 12-city tour of the Canadian Prairies this 
winter to raise awareness on the consequences of allowing GE wheat to grow 
in the country. The launch of the tour is currently set for February 27, in 
Winnipeg. Spearheaded by the Council of Canadians, the tour will be co-
organised by the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, the National Farmers' 
Union and the Alberta-based Parkland Institute.

"Approving GE wheat, for example, would have consequences that are not 
limited to health safety concerns," says Nadège Adam, biotechnology 
campaigner for the 100,000-member Council of Canadians. "The farmers 
traditional right to reuse part of the crop to seed the following year is 
also in jeopardy, as this practice would infringe the patent. And when you 
think you can go around this problem by switching back to natural seeds, 
you are faced with a contamination problem that is impossible to contain."

We warned this would be happening with other crops such as canola, and it 
happened. Why the Canadian government would openly consider opening our 
wheat crops to such risks is beyond me. There is absolutely no evidence 
that GE crops have higher yields and are in any way beneficial for farmers. 
However, the potential for contamination is so high that the future of 
organic farming would be truly threatened by the release of GE wheat in the 
farming community"

Back in 1999, the Council of Canadians was part of a multi-sectoral effort 
that won a hard-fought and long battle against Monsanto's attempt to have 
Health Canada approve the Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) that would have found 
its way through the milk supply consumed by Canadians.


For more information, please contact:
Nadège Adam, Biotechnology Campaigner - Council of Canadians, +1-
613.233.4487 ext. 245
Guy Caron, Media Officer - Council of Canadians, +1-613.233.4487 ext. 234


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