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[genet-news] GMO-FREE REGIONS & REGULATION: Canadian activists want Monsanto’s GM alfalfa banned



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  ACTIVISTS WANT GENETICALLY MODIFIED ALFALFA BANNED

SOURCE: The Canadian Press, Canada

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5hyANmzwl1QLZpOdjvEkpc7LL32UA

DATE:   28.04.2009

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ACTIVISTS WANT GENETICALLY MODIFIED ALFALFA BANNED

OTTAWA ? A coalition of farm groups and activists wants a ban on the commercial use of a genetically modified alfalfa, saying it could overwhelm natural varieties of the crop.

The plant in question was modified by Monsanto to be tolerant of the company?s Roundup weed killer, but opponents fear its genes could be spread far and wide by natural pollination. They also say there?s no need for the change, which would only serve to benefit Monsanto.

The modified alfalfa was approved by the Canadian government in 2005, but cannot be used commercially until the company meets registration requirements.

There are 80 groups allied in opposition to the alfalfa, including farmer associations, farm businesses, sprouting and seed companies, food retailers and public interest groups.

They want the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to reassess its approval of the plant.

?The contamination of alfalfa would be inevitable and irreversible,? said Arnold Taylor of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate.

?Because it?s pollinated by bees, genes from Monsanto?s ... alfalfa would spread out of control.?

Carmen Wakeling of Eatmore Sprouts and Greens Ltd. in British Columbia said the spread of the Monsanto variety would cause problems for the organic food industry.

?Over time the availability of certified organic alfalfa seed would disappear, creating severe challenges for seed and sprout growers.?



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  WIDESPREAD CALL ISSUED TO STOP GM ALFALFA IN CANADA

SOURCE: CBAN - Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Canada

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.cban.ca/Press/Press-Releases/Widespread-Call-Issued-to-Stop-GM-Alfalfa-in-Canada

DATE:   28.04.2009

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WIDESPREAD CALL ISSUED TO STOP GM ALFALFA IN CANADA

 

...........................................................................

Click here to see the full list of signatories.

http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/GE-Crops-and-Food/Alfalfa/Signatories-to-No-to-GMO-Alfalfa

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80 groups to fight the commercialization of genetically modified alfalfa

Ottawa ? Today, 80 groups including farmer associations and food businesses from across Canada joined the growing call to stop the introduction and field-testing of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa.

The alfalfa in question is genetically modified by Monsanto to be tolerant to the company?s brand name herbicide Roundup. Alfalfa would be the first perennial GM crop on the market.

?The contamination of alfalfa would be inevitable and irreversible. We?ve already seen an end to organic canola due to GM contamination and we can?t afford to lose alfalfa,? said Arnold Taylor of the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate. ?Because it?s pollinated by bees, genes from Monsanto?s GM alfalfa would spread out of control.?

Alfalfa is an important crop for all farmers, both organic and conventional, as a soil builder by fixing nitrogen, as a clean-up crop to end weed infestations, and as feed for dairy cattle and other animals. ?Farmers universally see no reason for GM alfalfa. Monsanto is the only beneficiary. The company would gain by selling more Roundup and by controlling yet another crop through its gene patents, which in all other Roundup Ready crops in Canada, have disallowed farmers from saving seed,? said Terry Boehm, Vice President of the National Farmers Union.

GM alfalfa was approved by the Canadian government in 2005 but cannot be commercialized until Monsanto and Forage Genetics International seek and meet registration requirements for the variety. In the U.S., a Federal court revoked approval for GM alfalfa, ruling that a full environmental assessment was needed, citing risks to farmers and the environment.

The 80 groups that signed the ?No to GM Alfalfa? letter include farmer associations, farm businesses, sprouting and seed companies, food retailers, and public interest groups. The groups oppose the sale, trade and production of GM alfalfa and are asking the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to reassess its approval of GM alfalfa.

?The response from diverse groups across Canada in support of this position is huge. This is only the beginning of strong opposition to GM alfalfa as there is so much at stake for consumers and farmers alike,? said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, a coalition of 18 groups. ?The government must recognize the predictable and devastating environmental and economic costs of GM alfalfa and revoke approval now, rather than wait until after its too late and farmers have lost their crops and livelihoods to contamination.?

Carmen Wakeling of Eatmore Sprouts & Greens Ltd. in BC said that, ?Over time the availability of certified organic alfalfa seed would disappear, creating severe challenges for seed and sprout growers. Ultimately, GM alfalfa would have major repercussions on certified organic food producers throughout Canada and the U.S., no matter what they are making or growing?.

Urban consumers are also extremely concerned about the introduction of GM alfalfa. ?Canadian consumers are becoming more and more educated about GM foods and are increasingly looking for organic products,? said Dag Falck, Organic Program Manager for Nature?s Path, a major manufacturer of organic cereals in North America. ?Its essential that we ensure consumers retain the option to buy non-GM foods.?

?Our customers are very clear that they don?t want to eat GM foods, and that includes honey, milk and meat that would be effected by GM alfalfa,? said Julie Daniluk of The Big Carrot food store in Toronto.

The 80 groups will work together to stop the commercialization of GM alfalfa in Canada and have formed a ?No to GM Alfalfa? campaign to protect the crop.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:  POSITION PAPER ON THE INTRODUCTION OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED ALFALFA

SOURCE: Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, Canada

AUTHOR: Position Paper

URL:    http://db.zs-intern.de/uploads/1241000243-SOD_GMO_Alfalfa_Position_Paper.pdf

DATE:   23.03.2006

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POSITION PAPER ON THE INTRODUCTION OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED ALFALFA

The Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD) is opposed to the introduction of genetically modified alfalfa for the following reasons:

Organic standards prohibit the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO?s) for use in organic production. A crop with any detectable GMO contamination cannot be certified organic. Our domestic and international buyers require organic products that are GMO free.

1) All organic farmers use legumes as a soil-building component in their crop rotations. Alfalfa is a perfect legume for nitrogen fixation in the crop rotation for the majority of organic farms. To lose alfalfa in organic farm crop rotation would severely hamper our ability to maintain soil fertility and prevent soil erosion, which would harm the future of our soils health and sustainability.

2) Canadian organic livestock producers are in positioned for exponential growth. The release of GM alfalfa in Canada poses a threat to their ability to grow or buy GMO free hay or pellets. GMO free feed is necessary for the production of organic livestock. There is potential for huge damage to the organic hay, pellets and livestock markets.

3) If organic livestock production is adversely affected by the introduction of a genetically modified alfalfa, it goes without saying that the market for organic alfalfa seed for hay production would also be critically damaged.

4) There is a significant market, both domestic and export, for certified organic alfalfa seed for growing sprouts for human consumption. Consumers of alfalfa seed for sprouting prefer Canada?s high quality seed and reputation for clean organic products. This is a constantly growing market. The potential annual market loss if genetically modified alfalfa is introduced is over a half of a million pounds of alfalfa seed.

5) It will be impossible to prevent the spread of GM alfalfa beyond the fields that it is planted in for the following reasons:

- Alfalfa seed is a crop that is pollinated by bees, primarily leafcutter bees, but also honeybees, several species of wild bees and wasps. Leafcutter bees are normally placed in nests in shelters in an alfalfa field at a rate of 20,000 bees per acre. A significant percentage of these leafcutter bees do not return to their shelters; they drift several miles away in search of better bloom, or are blown away in strong winds and in storms. Honeybees have a very wide flying range, up to 4 miles. The isolation distance to prevent transfer of the genes by insect pollination from GM alfalfa to non ? genetically modified alfalfa would need to be several miles. However there is no mechanism for separating GMO and non-GMO growing areas, and alfalfa seed is usually produced in concentrated areas, so cross pollination and contamination would be inevitable.

- GM alfalfa for hay production will often be cut after blooming starts, giving an opportunity for bees and other pollinating insects to transfer pollen from the GM crop to other alfalfa seed crops.

- Alfalfa seed crops produce a percentage of ?hard? seed that can germinate several years after the field has been ploughed up. This would mean that a GM alfalfa seed crop would have the potential of contaminating non-GM alfalfa crops planted even a few years later.

- Volunteer GM alfalfa, (either produced from roots or plants that have gone to seed during seed production, or in hay fields, pastures, wasteland or ditches) will be a source of contamination for several years after destruction of a GM alfalfa field.

- Accidental pollination from GM alfalfa hay fields that are allowed to come into bloom would contaminate fields several miles away. This contamination could affect alfalfa seed fields, and alfalfa allowed to set seed in ditches and field margins.

- Livestock manure or wild animal droppings could also spread GM alfalfa seed.

6) Conventional alfalfa seed that is contaminated by GM alfalfa will also be rejected for import by several countries due to their rejection of GMO crops, food and feed. Alfalfa seed production has been a strong sector in Canadian agriculture, and will suffer losses in its market both within Canada and as an export crop, if genetically modified varieties are introduced.

7) Canada is the world?s largest exporter of alfalfa pellets and alfalfa cubes. We export 350,000 cubic meters of alfalfa pellets and 250,000 cubic meters of alfalfa cubes. A large portion of this export market would be lost if the alfalfa cubes and pellets contained genetically modified alfalfa.

8) The biotech industry claim of reduced pesticide use has not happened. In fact the opposite has happened. ?Independent reports from the US show that since 1996, GM corn, soybean and cotton have resulted in an increase in pesticide use of 55 million kilograms.? (Mail & Guardian online, January 10, 2006)

Canadian agricultural producers are going through desperate times in recent years, often only keeping the farm afloat by pouring one or two off farm incomes into the farm. The single bright spot in Canadian agriculture is the vigour and continued growth of the organic sector. Organic agriculture has been growing by 10% or more annually, since it became a market force in the early 1980?s. In the US organics is now an annual $10 billion dollar food sector. (The Western Producer, December 29, 2005)

In conclusion the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate recommends that the Government of Canada support organic agriculture in Canada, by rescinding approvals for environmental release and for food and feed safety of genetically modified alfalfa, banning the importation of GM alfalfa or GM contaminated alfalfa into Canada, and prohibiting testing, commercial release or any other introduction of genetically modified alfalfa into Canada.

Adopted by resolution by the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, March 23, 2006.



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:  CONSERVATIVES MUST PULL APPROVAL FOR GENETICALLY MODIFIED ALFALFA

SOURCE: New Democratic Party, Canada

AUTHOR: Press Release

URL:    http://www.ndp.ca/press/conservatives-must-pull-approval-for-genetically-modified-alfalfa

DATE:   28.04.2009

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CONSERVATIVES MUST PULL APPROVAL FOR GENETICALLY MODIFIED ALFALFA

New Democrat critic calls for protection for the integrity of this vital crop

OTTAWA ? New Democrat Agriculture critic, Alex Atamanenko, today challenged the Conservatives to reverse the environmental and health approvals for genetically modified (GM) alfalfa that have been awarded to Monsanto. He was joined by Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator for the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), a coalition of 18 groups, and spokesperson for the ?No to GMO Alfalfa? campaign which is endorsed by 80 groups.

?The only regulatory step left is variety registration at which point Monsanto will be able to foist their GM alfalfa into our marketplace,? stated Atamanenko. ?We want to prevent this from happening at all costs.?

?GM alfalfa would be a disaster for Canadian farmers and consumers,? said Lucy Sharratt, ?Contamination from GM alfalfa would be inevitable and will have serious economic impacts on the livelihoods of both organic and conventional farmers. Alfalfa is a critical crop across the food production system and we must protect it for our collective future.?

According to Atamanenko alfalfa is a particularly valuable crop to organic farmers who use it to fix nitrogen and as a soil-building component in their crop rotations and losing this crop would severely hamper their ability to maintain soil fertility. Also at risk is the organic livestock market which needs feed that is GM free.

?It is incomprehensible that the government would set the stage for Monsanto to eventually control this vital crop which can only come at the expense of Canada?s entire domestic and international organic markets,? concluded Atamanenko. ?I urge the government to think twice and then think again before allowing Monsanto, whose sole interest is to gain a monopoly over the seed, to genetically alter a crop that serves farmers perfectly well already.


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