May 19, 2013
Remarks from Paul Slomp, Youth Vice-President, National Farmers Union
April 2, 2012 Press Conference, Ottawa, Parliament Hill 10:30 AM
As farmers we are immensely relieved to find out that the University of Guelph is closing its active research on “Enviropig”. The National Farmers Union is pleased that Ontario Pork understands the risk this technology poses to our markets and has decided to re-direct its funding elsewhere. Finally we are grateful to all consumers and farmers who joined together and spoke out against this GM pig.
It’s become increasingly clear that this genetically modified pig is a redundant technology. There is a technology already on the market called Phytase that does exactly the same thing that Enviropig promised to do. Phytase is a supplement added to hog feed that helps the pig break down the phosphorus in its feed. This supplement is cost-effective and does the same thing that the GM pig was supposed to do. Additionally, there are many on-farm management practices that farmers use to reduce phosphorus pressure on the environment around pig barns. The GM pig is an unnecessary technology.
Furthermore, Enviropig threatens our pork markets. It’s clear that consumers don’t want genetically modified food animals. The University of Guelph was trying to commercialize research that would’ve had disastrous effects on farmers. There is no official avenue for consumers to voice their opposition to the genetic modification of animals. Without labeling of GM foods, the only choice left to consumers would have been to avoid Canadian pork products. This was obviously a major concern for hog farmers. All hog farmers would’ve been affected by this consumer backlash.
Hog farmers would’ve carried the market risk associated with the approval of Enviropig. In fact, they still do – as long as a request for approval of Enviropig remains inside Health Canada. This is why the University of Guelph needs to remove its submission for approval from Health Canada – even if there is no one to commercialize the technology right now. If Enviropig is approved by Health Canada, it will undermine consumer confidence in Canadian pork.
We need to learn lessons from this Enviropig fiasco. We call on the Federal government to stop accepting applications of genetically modified animals. The government needs to recognize that considering the approval of GM animals risks serious market harm.