GMO Bites

from the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

• We are reporting some incredibly important developments from around the world, including the Canadian government’s new Agriculture Omnibus Bill. The news below exposes the intense fight around the future of GM crops.

In mid-December, your protests helped stall GM sterile seeds moving ahead (Terminator technology), despite an international moratorium. The update from Brazil is below. CBAN is coordinating the Canadian Ban Terminator Campaign as part of the international campaign. Industry will do everything they can to be able to use this technology and we will do everything we can to stop them.

Meanwhile, an Australian farmer is close to his court date; he lost his organic certification due to GM canola contamination. This is a familiar story to Canadians but it is a new fight in Australia; for the first time, a single farmer is taking his neighbour to court for contaminating his farm.

The right to save seed is under attack. Terminator technology is only one tool that could be used to stop farmers from saving seeds. Next year, CBAN will join with farmers across Canada in stopping further enclosures on seed saving.

Your actions worked! Terminator stopped for now

Confronted with 35,000 institutional and individual signatures on a petition growing by several hundred an hour, Brazil’s Judiciary Commission agreed to take the Pro-Terminator Bill off the agenda leaving open the possibility that the bill will not be passed until Congress reconvenes in early February. Terminator technology is GM sterile seed technology.

Supporters of the suicide seed legislation have privately argued that GMO opponents should welcome their bill since it will prevent farmers from reusing GM seeds. This is both technically and politically wrong. Terminator technologies are highly imperfect and the sterility trait will inevitably bleed into neighbouring fields and crops meaning farmers will unwittingly plant seeds that they will never be able to harvest. More ominously, Terminator is fundamentally a ground-shifting market strategy. If major seed companies are allowed to use Terminator technologies, they will immediately transfer all of their plant breeding research onto the suicide seed platform which affords them anywhere from two to four times the profitability of non-Terminator seeds.

Landmark legal case: Organic farmer sues neighbour for GM contamination

Steve Marsh is an Australian farmer who lost his organic certification when Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) canola blew onto his farm from a neighbouring property in 2010. Since then, Steve has lost most of his income and has been struggling to get his organic certification back.

Monsanto has a no liability agreement with GM farmers that prevent them from being sued. The only avenue Steve had to protect his livelihood was to take his neighbour to court. It is due to start on February 10 in the Western Australian Supreme Court and is scheduled to run for three weeks. This is the world’s first case of an organic farmer using the courts to recover loss and damages from a GM farmer. This case has been described as a landmark case to determine who should take responsibility in case of GM contamination. If Steve wins, it will set a precedent to guide the application of common law to GM contamination and will be of interest to lawmakers worldwide.

Watch and share the short video explaining Steve’s story:

Donate to support this landmark case:

The Safe Food Foundation, Australia:!/SafeFoodFound

Seed saving under attack in Canada

Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz has introduced the Agricultural Growth Act (AGA). The government is calling the AGA an omnibus bill for agriculture because it proposes amendments to a number of acts dealing with plant breeders’ rights, feed, seed, fertilizer, animal health, plant protection, monetary penalties, ag marketing programs and farm debt mediation.

The Act would amend the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act to align it with the requirements of UPOV ‘91 (the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants). UPOV ‘91 is about restricting what farmers can do with seed and giving seed companies powerful new tools to extract money from farmers. “These seed corporations would be able to extract money from farmers on their entire crop,” Terry Boehm of the National Farmers Union explained… The plant breeder/seed corporation would have total control of seed… This upsets thousands of years of normal agricultural practice whereby farmers always saved seed for their next crop.”

The National Farmers Union Seed and Trade Committee is undertaking a thorough reading of the Act and will prepare a detailed analysis of its implications for farmers in the near future.

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