OP/ED: Big biotech may win in vote for non-GMO bill

Alex Atamanenko
By Alex Atamanenko
November 7th, 2010

New Democrat Agriculture Critic, Alex Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior) is appalled at how Conservatives have slammed the door in farmers face and are ignoring their concerns over economic impact of genetically modified crops. After months of negotiation Conservative MPs abandoned a deal to allow the Agriculture Committee more time to consider the merits of Atamanenko’s Bill (C-474). “It’s no secret that Big Biotech doesn’t want a debate on GE seeds,” stated Atamanenko.  “They are quite happy with the present system that allows them to make all the decisions about when to turn their technology loose into the marketplace.” Atamanenko’s bill supports Canada’s farmers by requiring an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is allowed.  As a result of the vote Bill C-474 has been sent back to the House of Commons for Third Reading and a final vote which should happen sometime in December.  Currently farmers have no say in the current system and have to resort to public protests in order to prevent these companies from unleashing GE Technology that threatens their export markets. “Monsanto could go ahead and register their GE alfalfa, which has already received health and environmental approvals,  and put it on the market even though it could turn the entire organic industry trade upside down.” stated Atamanenko. “Clearly the government has learned nothing from harm caused to flax farmers when Canadian flax shipments bound for Europe were rejected because of contamination by GE Triffid flax.” Expert witnesses from around the country, brought to Ottawa on taxpayers’ expense to provide testimony, were turned away at the Committee door when they arrived to make their scheduled presentations.  

 “The Conservatives will have one last chance in the final vote do the right thing and protect Canadian farmers from economic harm when genetically engineered seeds are introduced before their markets are ready to accept them,” concluded Atamanenko.  

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