December 20, 2013
October 7, 2013: Ontario’s Minister of the Environment has denied a request to regulate an environmental assessment of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa. The request for an assessment process was made by two farmers in Ontario, on behalf of many. The Minister decided that "a new provincial regulation making activities on the sale and distribution of GM seed subject to the EAA [Environmental Assessment Act] would overlap with the existing federal regulation. Therefore, the public interest does not warrant an EBR [Environmental Bill of Rights] review by the ministry." Click here to read the decision summary from the ministry.
“We expected the Ministry to respond to the specific request made and, in a review, seek the evidence necessary for it to fully understand the implications of releasing GM herbicide tolerant alfalfa into the Ontario environment. We are very disappointed that instead, it has decided to stand aside from this important public question.” - Ann Slater, National Farmers Union-Ontario
"We don’t want it or need it, and we will not surrender to the interests of big seed and biotech companies” - Dave Lewington, one of the two Ontario farmers who requested the assessment.
National Farmers Union Press Release, October 7, 2013: Ontario misses the point in decision against Environmental Assessment of GM Alfalfa, says NFU
CBAN Press Release, October 7, 2013: Decision to Deny Ontario Environmental Assessment of GM Alfalfa a Lost Opportunity, say groups
- New Action in Ontario! October 7, 2013: You can write a new letter to the Ontario Minister of Environment and Premier.
- New Poster for your local health food store, farmers' market or just around town...
- In Ontario: Print the petition and sent it to your MPP.
- You can still collect signatures on the petition and to send to your MP!
- Email your Premier today!
- Write to your federal Member of Parliament instantly by clicking here.
- Write to the federal Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, by clicking here.
- Give to the Challenge Fund - Organic Agriculture Protection Fund.
- Handout/Summary on GM Alfalfa for consumers
- Handout/Summary on GM Alfalfa for farmers
- Press Release - September 12, 2013: Industry Launches “Coexistence Plan” for GM Alfalfa as Contamination Report Investigated in the U.S.
Press Release - July 15, 2013: Protesters Demand Industry Meeting Abandon GM Alfalfa Plans
"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"
- New Report: "The Canadian Seed Trade Association’s so-called “Coexistence Plan” is a gateway to GM alfalfa contamination", Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and National Farmers Union, July 2013
- Quotes from the CSTA Workshop on coexistence, October 24 2012
The Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) and its corporate members including Monsanto, Pioneer and Forage Genetics International are actively trying to get support for the release of GM alfalfa. CSTA is developing a "coexistence plan" for GM alfalfa to try to justify releasing the seed into the environment. However, the only way to stop contamination from GM alfalfa, is to stop GM alfalfa!
Because alfalfa is a perennial plant that is pollinated by bees, genetically modified alfalfa will inevitably cross-pollinate with non-GM and organic alfalfa, threatening the livelihoods of family farmers across Canada. Prairie farmers who export alfalfa products are vocally opposed to GM alfalfa so the industry is now trying to introduce GM alfalfa in Eastern Canada first.
Take More Action
- Click here for a possible response letter to your MP.
- Here is a background piece you can send to your MP with your letter.
- You can also include the report on contamination from CBAN.
- Here are some talking points for your own reference.
- You can also send a personalized letter to the Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz firstname.lastname@example.org
- Below is more info and updates.
- For further information or with questions please contact email@example.com
Update, June 10 2013: The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) has uncovered that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has recently approved one variety of genetically engineered alfalfa: a herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) alfalfa from Monsanto/Forage Genetics International. This means that one variety of GM alfalfa is now legal to sell in Canada - it is not yet on the market. We need to stop GM alfalfa seeds from being sold in Canada.
After the Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa on April 9 2013, the company Forage Genetics International stated that it would not put any GM alfalfa seeds on the market this spring. The company could, however, release GM alfalfa whenever it decides. CBAN is closely monitoring this situation.
The Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, chose not to intervene to stop the registration of GM alfalfa. The Minister received almost 8000 email letters asking him to stop the release GM alfalfa and on April 9, people rallied in 38 communities across Canada. Most of the community actions took place outside local constituency offices of federal Members of Parliament and many petitions were presented to MPs that have since been presented by them in the House of Commons. Your outreach to your Members of Parliament has been very influential. As CBAN continues to implement various strategic work to stop the release of GM alfalfa, we ask you to continue your communication with your Member of Parliament. The Day of Action showed us that many MPs understand your concerns.
Thank you everyone for your action on April 9 - Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa!
- Handout/Summary on GM Alfalfa for consumers (produced for the April 9 Day of Action)
- Handout/Summary on GM Alfalfa for farmers (produced for the April 9 Day of Action)
- CBAN Report, April 2, 2013: "The Inevitability of Contamination from GM Alfalfa Release in Ontario: The case for preventing the introduction of Roundup Ready alfalfa",
- Click here for the Executive Summary of the report.
- On the Practical Implications of Roundup Ready Alfalfa (RR®), E. Ann Clark, 2012.
Even More Actions
- Get signatures on the petition and send them to your MP!
- Print and download the flyer about GM alfalfa.
- Ask your local health food store to put up this attractive poster about GM alfalfa! The store could also collect signatures on the petition, screen the video or display alfalfa-related foods!
- Join the GM Alfalfa Campaign Action Listserve.
- Donate today to support the campaign. Thank you for your support!
- Groups and Businesses: Your group can sign the No to GE Alfalfa campaign statement. Please encourage organizations, producer associations, companies and community groups to sign!
- Retailers: Download and print this poster for your store!
Summary: Alfalfa growers do not need or want GM alfalfa and have been trying to stop it for at least five years. Organic food and farming in the U.S. and Canada is under immediate threat from GM alfalfa. Conventional farmers will also lose their markets. The introduction of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) alfalfa would have serious negative impacts on many different types of farmers and farming systems, both conventional and organic. Because alfalfa is a perennial crop pollinated by bees, GM contamination is inevitable. GM alfalfa was actually approved in Canada in 2005 but still needs to go through one more step before it can be legally sold as seed in Canada.
Why is Alfalfa Important? Alfalfa (harvested as hay) is used as high-protein feed for animals like dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, poultry and pigs and is also used to build up nutrients in the soil, making it particularly important for organic farming. If introduced, GM alfalfa would ruin export markets for alfalfa products and threaten the future organic food and farming in the North America.
What are Farmers Saying about GM Alfalfa?
Conventional and organic farmers agree that GM alfalfa is not wanted or needed: What conventional alfalfa producers told the House of Commons Agriculture Committee, June 7, 2010
Before the U.S. decided to allow GM alfalfa plantings in early 2011, groups in Canada sent their comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to their Draft Environmental Impact Statement on alfalfa. Read the about on the predicted impacts of GM alfalfa and the experience of GM contamination in Canada:
- The National Farmers Union
- Beyond Factory Farming
- The Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, Organic Agriculture Protection Fund
- National Organic Coalition (U.S. with Canadian signatories).
Share the video with your friends and family, screen the video at community events and film fests! You can request the file from us for screening. Click here to find out more information about the people behind the video.
The Campaign So Far
On April 9, thousands of people, in 38 communities across Canada, rallied as part of the Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa, called for by the National Farmers Union-Ontario. You can view the photo report here. After the Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa on April 9 2013, the company Forage Genetics International stated that it would not put any GM alfalfa seeds on the market this spring. The company could, however, release GM alfalfa whenever it decides. CBAN is closely monitoring this situation.
Press Release - April 2, 2013: New Report Warns of Inevitable Contamination if GM Alfalfa Released in Ontario
Press Release, Oct 24, 2012 - National Farmers Union, Grey County Local 344 and Region 3 Ontario - Farmers Protest “Industry Spin” Designed to Facilitate Licensing of GM Alfalfa in Ontario: Policy of coexistence of GM alfalfa is “utterly absurd", say local farmers
Before the Federal election in Canada, May 2011: Conservative Members of Parliament purposefully delayed a vote (twice) on a motion for a moratorium on GM alfalfa at Agriculture Committee meetings. The Liberals, NDP and Bloc Members all supported the moratorium so if the Conservatives had allowed the vote, the motion would have been approved and the motion would have passed to the House of Commons for a vote. The motion was proposed by the Liberal members of the House of Commons Agriculture Committee after huge public pressure to support Bill C-474 which would have required an assessment of export market harm before any new GM seed was permitted.
The US approved plantings of GM alfalfa in January 2011. In 2007 a judge ruled that the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) approval of GM alfalfa was illegal and ordered the Department to conduct an environmental risk assessment to look into farmer concerns about contamination. In December 2009, the USDA released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for comment (this is the first time it has conducted this type of analysis for any GM crop). Canadian groups sent in their comments (see above).
Join the Campaign
Invitation from the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate:
The commercialization of genetically modified alfalfa -- GM Alfalfa -- planned by Monsanto and Forage Genetics International, would have a severe, negative impact on Canadian agriculture, markets, and our environment. A united effort by agriculture producer groups, consumer and environmental organizations, as well as concerned individuals, will prevent this from happening. A similar campaign stopped GM wheat in 2004.
This is your invitation to join together to put the brakes on GM Alfalfa.
We invite all organizations, producer associations, companies and community groups to endorse the "No to GM Alfalfa" campaign by signing on to the following statement (Your group’s name will be used in a list of groups that state opposition to GM Alfalfa):
- We oppose the sale, trade and production of GMO Alfalfa in Canada.
- We ask the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to reassess its approval for environmental release of GMO Alfalfa.
- We want the public to understand the hazards, costs and market losses that would result if GMO Alfalfa were released into our environment.
Sign the statement here! or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
The Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD) is a Member of CBAN. SOD is the umbrella group for the organic sector in Saskatchewan. In 2001 the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund Committee was established by SOD in order to protect organic farms and food from contamination by GMOs. The OAPF Committee provided support to the legal action against Monsanto and Bayer to bring about an injunction to stop the commercialization of GMO wheat, and to make the biotech companies liable for losses to organic farmers due to contamination of certified organic crops and fields by GMO canola. In 2004 Monsanto withdrew its application to have GMO wheat approved in Canada.
For more information contact:
OAPF Chairperson, Arnold Taylor at (306) 252-2075, or Lucy Sharratt at the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) (613) 241-2267 ext.25, or email@example.com