From Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)
GM alfalfa registered: stop it now before it contaminates our food
Our government is siding with multinational companies against the best interests of farmers and our food system. CBAN has uncovered that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has recently approved one variety of genetically engineered alfalfa: an 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 and ask “Will you stand up to stop GM alfalfa from being released and contaminating our fields and food?” Send your email from www.cban.ca/alfalfaMPletter
After the Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa on April 9, the company Forage Genetics International stated it would not put any GM alfalfa seeds on the market in the 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 this GM alfalfa. The Minister received almost 8,000 email letters asking him to stop the release of GM alfalfa and on April 9 people rallied in 38 communities across Canada. Most of these community actions took place outside local constituency offices of federal Members of Parliament and many petitions were delivered to MPs that they have now presented in the House of Commons. Your outreach to your Members of Parliament has been very influential. As CBAN continues to implement various strategic measures to work with you 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 10 years of persistent campaigning. 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 have taken action. We are at a crossroads and your action will help us turn in the right direction. Please join us as we press forward. Thank you for your continued action and support.
Monsanto leaves Europe
Monsanto has pulled out of GM crop research in Europe and is not planning to request approval for new GM seeds in Europe. Currently, Monsanto sells GM corn only in Spain, Portugal and Czech republic.* Monsanto confirmed abandoning GM crop efforts in Europe to Danish reporters: “We have plenty of other things to sell… We will sell it where people want it,” said Brandon Mitchener, Public Affairs Lead for Monsanto Europe. “We made a strategic decision in 2011 to focus entirely on hybrid or conventional, normal crops.”** Monsanto’s confirmation follows a similar decision from German biotech company BASF as well as Bayer CropScience and Syngenta who have also largely moved out of Europe.
Connecticut first US State to pass GE food labelling law
On June 3, Connecticut became the first US state to pass mandatory labelling legislation for genetically engineered food ingredients. The compromise law requires that four other states pass similar legislation in order to “trigger” Connecticut’s labelling requirement. One of the states must share a border with Connecticut and their combined population must equal at least 20 million people. www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/ct_first_in_the_nation_to_pass_gmo_labeling_bill
Philippines court stops GE eggplant field trials
A court in the Philippines has ordered the government to stop field trials of genetically engineered (Bt) eggplant. Groups challenged that the trials violated the people’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology. The court agreed.
GE wheat contamination update
On May 29, the US government confirmed that unapproved GE wheat was discovered in a field in Oregon.* GE wheat is not approved or grown anywhere in the world. The US government has increased its investigation but has still not been able to identify the source of contamination. Meanwhile, a Kansas wheat farmer has filed a civil lawsuit against Monsanto seeking compensation for damages caused by the discovery that sent wheat export futures prices spiralling downward. “Consider the liability issues. Why is a biotech company such as Monsanto allowed to get away with setting loose their unapproved genetic material via experimental field tests and yet pay none of the consequences when it escapes? The market impacts of contamination are always borne by farmers who had no say in whether, how or where these field tests took place. This is an injustice and it is not acceptable,” said Glenn Tait of the Canadian National Farmers Union.**
Asian and European markets are now testing US shipments for contamination. No contamination has yet been found in US exports and no contamination has been found in Canada.
Monsanto stocks declined, the biggest drop since Oct. 31, 2011
Monarch Butterflies: If GM doesn’t get them, Roundup will
The iconic US Monarch butterfly is suffering a serious drop in numbers as a result of the widespread adoption of GM Roundup Ready (RR) soya and maize in the US Midwest, GM Freeze reports.
A new briefing summarizes the science behind the 15-year decline in Monarch numbers and warms that the European Union needs to think carefully before approving any GM RR crops for cultivation. Monsanto’s RR GM crops are genetically modified to be tolerant to the weedkiller glyphosate (brandname RoundUp) so the fields can be blanket sprayed with weed killer and the crop survives. This practice can harm wildlife habitats
Entomologists in the US have charted a major decline in the number of Common Milkweed, the food plant of Monarch caterpillar, in maize and soya fields since the introduction of RR crops in the 1990s. Milkweed likes disturbed land and is more common in cultivated fields than in non-agricultural habitats. Detailed field research shows that Common Milkweed in fields fell by 90% in the decade to 2009. This affects the number of Monarch caterpillars surviving to adulthood and scientists say it partly explains the worrying decline in Monarch adults found at wintering sites in central Mexico.
Other factors, such as forest destruction in Mexico and urban sprawl in the US, have also played a part in Monarch declines, but scientists are worried that the population loss could become permanent if milkweed losses are not addressed. Low Monarch populations are further vulnerable to extreme weather events at all stages of the Monarch’s lifecycle as they migrate so the problem could escalate.
Earlier research highlighted concern that GM Bt maize crops, which are genetically modified to produce toxins that kill insect pests, could also impact non-target species like the Monarch butterfly by exposing their larvae to Bt toxins in maize pollen falling on the leaves of milkweed they eat. Toxicity of pollen varies between different Bt maize crops and the impact of single Bt genes is thought to be low. However, the trend is toward “stacking” multiple GM genes into single crops and the new Monsanto/Dow SmartStax maize contains six Bt genes, three of which have the potential to harm Monarch caterpillars. GM Freeze is concerned that exposure to this pollen could produce sublethal effects and add to the Monarch’s problems. www.gmfreeze.org
Study finds GE salmon can cross-breed with wild fish
Scientists from Canada have found that transgenic (genetically engineered) Atlantic salmon can cross-breed with brown trout, a closely related species. The fish, which have been engineered to grow faster, pass the trait to the hybrid offspring and the new fish out-competed other fish in lab experiments. The US could approve the first GE fish – the fast-growing GE Atlantic salmon – any day.
CBC report on failure of GM insect-resistant crops
Genetically engineered insect resistant (Bt) crops are failing as insects become resistant, just as predicted. There was actually never any dispute that this would happen, it was just a matter of time… and now is the time. You can listen to the discussion of this problem on CBC’s The Current: www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2013/05/29/ gm-resistant-rootworms-and-the-future-of-farming/
From Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN). CBAN promotes food sovereignty and democratic decision making on science and technology issues in order to protect the integrity of the environment, health, food, and the livelihoods of people in Canada and around the world. Donate today to support the campaigns at www.cban.ca/donate