June 18, 2013
Thank you everyone for your action on April 9 - Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa!
Update: GM Alfalfa Registered
- Click here for some possible responses to you MP's letter.
- 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.
- Below is more info and updates.
- For further information or with questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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. There could be more varieties approved over the summer (the process is completely secret).
However, GM alfalfa seeds are not yet on the market in Canada. Email your MP today, to ask him or her to raise their voice, to stop the release of GM alfalfa. You can also send a personalized letter to the Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz email@example.com
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.
The recent discovery of contamination from unapproved GM wheat in the US clearly shows why stopping the introduction of GM crops like GM alfalfa is the only way to stop contamination.
The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network is committed to protecting family farms and our food system from GM contamination. Together, farmers, consumers and scientists in Canada stopped Monsanto's Bovine Growth Hormone from being approved. We need to remember that this important victory took ten years of persistent campaign work. Last year, your actions with CBAN stopped the GM pig called "Enviropig". In 2004, Monsanto withdrew its applications for approval of GM wheat in Canada and the US because of our protests. Through all these years, and many more victories, more people have become aware of this issue and more people have taken action. We are at a crossroads, and your action can help us turn in the right direction.
Please join us as we press forward. Thank you for your continued action and support.
Special Message: A hearty thanks!
As I head out for planting, I wanted to take the time to thank all of you for your action on April 9th, the Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa. Just like farmers across the world who prepare, plant, nourish and harvest good food, your meaningful actions plant the seeds that are growing into a strong movement. Taking action to build a just and sustainable food system requires courage and determination, good will and good humour - we saw all of this on April 9th, and I am proud to stand with you.
When the National Farmers Union-Ontario called for the Day of Action, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and thousands of concerned people took up the call to make consumers and decision-makers across Canada aware of the dire threat this inappropriate technology poses. You can see the story of the Day of Action through the photo gallery now posted at http://www.cban.ca/april9gallery . You can see photos with all the great banners, and tractors, hay bales and lambs (!), that farmers and eaters brought to the streets across the country.
You have helped plant the seed, and now it’s growing. Please help nourish this campaign through the spring and summer by donating what’s reasonable for you. Family farms rely on the actions we take together to support local and ecological food production. You can make a tax-deductible donation to CBAN, a project of Tides Canada Initiatives, online or see other options at www.cban.ca/donate
Best wishes this growing season, Tom
- Tom Rudge is Chair of the CBAN Steering Committee and farms organically with his family outside of Whitehorse in the Yukon.
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 trying to introduce GM alfalfa in Eastern Canada first. On April 9, 2013, farmers Eastern Canada and across the country - in 38 communities in total - protested any introduction of GM alfalfa.
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. In October 2012 the CSTA held a meeting in Kitchener-Waterloo to decide on a "coexistence" plan for GM alfalfa, to pave the way for introducing GM alfalfa into Canada via Ontario. 120 farmers and supporting consumers protested outside the meeting. Phillip Woodhouse, president of NFU Grey County Local 344 says the term ‘co-existence’ is merely industry spin meant to allay farmers' concerns about contamination. “Make no mistake - GM alfalfa will cross-pollinate with non-GM and organic alfalfa and will threaten the very livelihoods of Ontario’s family farmers," he warned. The CSTA is currently working to finalize this "plan."
- 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)
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.
- 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!
- Send us your action ideas and share photos from your community. Contact us.
Even More Actions!
- 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!
- Retailers: Coming soon: "GM Alfalfa Campaign Action Kit for Retailers". Let us know if you are interested in receiving one.
- Share the video with your friends and family on facebook, embed the video on your website, "Like" the video!
- Screen the video at your local events, include it in your local film fests.
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).
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.
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.
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) but in January 2011, the U.S. approved plantings of GM alfalfa. Resistance continues in the U.S.
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