September 27, 2016

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Protesters Demand Industry Meeting Abandon GM Alfalfa Plans

Monday, July 15. Quebec City - Protestors outside a Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) meeting this morning denounced the industry group’s plans to release genetically modified (GM) alfalfa in Eastern Canada. They asked the Quebec government and other provincial governments to stop GM alfalfa in order to protect farmers and our food system from contamination.

“The only way to stop contamination from GM alfalfa is to stop GM alfalfa,” said Thibault Rehn of the Quebec group Vigilance OGM, which organized the protest. “Consumers and farmers don’t want it. The industry must abandon its plans to release GM alfalfa.”

CSTA’s two-day annual general meeting in Quebec City is set to finalize the industry group’s “coexistence plan” which attempts to outline how GM alfalfa can be released without unwanted contamination in farmers’ fields.

“The industry is pretending it can stop GM alfalfa from contaminating our fields but that’s pure fiction. GM alfalfa cannot be contained by any type of ‘plan’. Will the bees read the industry’s plan?” said Gilbert Halde, President of the Union of Organic Milk Producers of Quebec, “This is a plan for contamination, not coexistence.”

CSTA members include the companies Monsanto and Forage Genetics International that are working to introduce GM alfalfa in Eastern Canada this year. Farmer associations in the East opposed to the release of GM alfalfa include Quebec’s Union of Agriculture Producers (UPA), the Quebec Milk Producers, and the National Farmers Union.

Alfalfa is an important part of pasture and hay for animal feed, particularly for dairy farmers. Alfalfa is a perennial crop, pollinated by bees.

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) and the National Farmers Union rebutted the CSTA’s “coexistence plan” in a technical paper released today (www.cban.ca/planrebuttal).

“This is a risk-mitigation plan, not a coexistence plan,” said Lucy Sharratt of CBAN, “The plan ignores basic facts of biology and many realities of every-day farming.

The CSTA’s plan depends on farmers doing extra work such as mowing ditches in their spare time, cutting hay at the perfect moment regardless of weather conditions, and ensuring farm equipment is cleaned to surgical standards – every year, with no compensation.

“The industry needs to pretend that coexistence is possible so companies can justify releasing GM alfalfa,” Sharratt said.

For more information: Thibault Rehn, Vigilance OGM, 514-582-1674; Lucy Sharratt (en anglais) Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext 25

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