GMO Bites

From Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)

Action appeals

Farmers are working hard to make hay while the sun shines. Write your letter in solidarity now to stop GM alfalfa from contaminating our hay.

Sign the petition set up by the BC Girl Guide who wants GMO-Free Girl Guide cookies. The business manager for the Girl Guide cookies said, “With the current world market for food products, it’s not a financially viable option. It would triple the cost of our cookies.” A similar campaign from a Girl Guide to remove palm oil in order to save orangutan habitat was met with a similar answer.

Change the food system, change the cookie:

US Senate vote for GM fish labelling

The first recorded vote on GE food labelling in the US Senate Appropriations Committee passed 15-14. It was a bipartisan amendment to the US Fiscal Year 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill that would require the mandatory labelling of GM salmon, if it passes on the Senate floor in the [near future]… “The tide is shifting in states across the nation and on Capitol Hill in favour of labelling genetically engineered foods,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for Center for Food Safety in the US.

City of North Vancouver votes for GE-Free

On June 10, the City of North Vancouver became the second Vancouver municipality and the 62nd municipality in BC to declare itself a GE-Free zone. Congratulations GE Free BC and Ecourbia Network. The City Council also asked staff to review the potential for a ban on the sale of all GE crops, seeds and trees within the City boundaries. If that happened, North Van would also be the first municipality in Canada to introduce such a bylaw. Check out the full update from CBAN member group GE Free BC:

Landmark decision: Human genes are not patentable

In a unanimous landmark decision, the US Supreme Court has ruled that naturally occurring genes and DNA sequences are facts of nature and therefore not patentable. Synthetic molecules, known as complementary DNA or cDNA, may be patentable, however. For 30 years, the U.S. Patent Office has issued patents on thousands of human genes, including genes associated with colon cancer, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy and many other diseases. Companies controlling gene patents had the right to stop all other scientists from examining, studying, testing and researching our genes. No longer!

Second US state votes for mandatory labelling

On June 12, the Senate in the US state of Maine passed a bill for mandatory labelling of GM foods – unanimously. Additional votes are needed before final approval. This is the second state law as on June 3, Connecticut passed a similar bill.

New study: GM crops not providing higher yields

A new wide-ranging study has found no yield increase in the US from GM corn and canola compared to non-GM in Western Europe. “The American choices in biotechnology are causing it to fall behind Europe in productivity and sustainability.”

Commentary on new health study: Pigs fed GM grains

Consumers Union in the US provides a good summary of the importance of the new long-term health study on feeding GM grains to pigs: http://consumer CBAN has posted documents and a link to the study at

Michael Hansen of Consumers Union in the US says the following about the study, “This is something that needs to be followed up. It’s consistent with other findings. The critics of this study want to assume GE is safe and then try to tear down any study showing otherwise… This is an ideological position, not a good scientific one.” Here is a good reflection on the industry backlash: “The shrill has found itself on the other foot.” and specific responses to the expected attack from the industry. http://gmojudycarmanorg/a-specific-reply-to-mark-lynas/

Glyphosate health impacts

A short new video provides testimonials about the impact of GM soy production on the health of families in rural Paraguay. “Crying with tears in my eyes, I ask them, ‘Don’t spray any more poison’ but they laugh at me which makes me angry. Where will we get the money to cure all our children?” GM Roundup Ready (glyphosate) and other herbicide tolerant soy crops are designed to be sprayed with pesticides.

Test results show that there may be widespread presence of the herbicide glyphosate in the general population. Tests reveal that people across Europe are contaminated with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide formula. The unprecedented tests, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe, found the herbicide in 44% of volunteers in 18 European countries. Governments do not track glyphosate levels in people and the Canadian government does not track how much glyphosate (or GM seed) is used.

GM alfalfa campaign progress updates

Your letters and petitions to your Members of Parliament are having an impact. Various sources tell us that many MPs are very aware and concerned about GM alfalfa and in meetings with agriculture organizations. MPs are raising this issue on their own and asking questions in order to educate themselves. MPs have heard a lot from constituents about this issue since the April 9 Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa and so your letters are a good action that continues this pressure. If you have not already sent your letter, you can do this instantly from

Many of you have asked for help in responding to your MP so CBAN has drafted some suggestions for responding to arguments:

Many thousands of signatures were presented in the House by MPs across the country in May and June including from the Yukon, Ontario, BC and Alberta. And many people also sat down to meet with their MPs. Parliament has closed for the summer break but not before over 1,000 signatures were presented in the House of Commons by MP Craig Scott (Toronto-Danforth), thanks to Toronto activists and The Big Carrot.

Special Action Request: CBAN does not have the funds to send our report on GM alfalfa contamination to every MP, but you could send it! If people across the country mail the report to their own MP, this is even more influential. Please consider printing the report as well as the executive summary (easier for your MP to read and use) and send both documents in the mail or deliver them to the local office, with a covering letter about your concerns or just a post-it note asking them to read it. You can look up their local office address using your postal code at You could also include a package of alfalfa seeds in your mailing to help make your point. Most health food stores sell alfalfa seeds for sprouting. Alfalfa seeds are tiny and having these seeds in their hands will help MPs understand that the issue of contamination is very serious – who can keep track of these tiny seeds? Download the report and executive summary at

The report is about contamination in Ontario, but this contamination will not stay in Ontario and there’s no guarantee that Forage Genetics and Monsanto will only introduce GM alfalfa in Eastern Canada, as they say for the moment.

The new Ontario Premier has agreed to sit down with Ontario farmers to hear their concerns about GM alfalfa. If you live in Ontario, now is a great time to write to Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is also the provincial Minister of Agriculture. Write to Kathleen Wynne, Premier, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, Toronto ON M7A 1A1 or email pre or call 416-325-1941.

Thank you to everyone who is taking these and other actions. Thank you also for sending us your responses from MPs. We are still working to reply to all of you. Please stay tuned for important upcoming updates in this campaign. Thank you for your ongoing action and support.

Donate today to support the campaigns at

Youth activism at work

Sixteen-year-old North Okanagan resident Jenna Mazur is raising awareness about the need for mandatory GMO labelling in Canada. Sign the petition she created on Avaaz:

photo © Endostock

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