Atamanenko calls unconfined release of GE seeds a disaster for organic farming

By Contributor
January 31st, 2011

New Democrat Agriculture Critic, Alex Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior), is calling on Prime Minister Harper to urge the United States (US) government to immediately reverse yesterday’s decision to authorize the unrestricted cultivation of Monsanto’s hotly contested genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa in the US.

“It is certain that any GE alfalfa grown in the US will inevitably lead to contamination of alfalfa in Canada,” said Atamanenko. “If Harper doesn’t take a stand to protect Canadian farmers and their organic markets from this looming nightmare then there can be no doubt that Monsanto not only rules the roost in the US but in Canada as well.”

Atamanenko has been fighting to protect Canadian farmers from the loss of their markets due to unwanted GE contamination with the introduction of bill C-474 which will soon be voted on at its third and final reading in the House of Commons.

The Conservatives have taken a strong stand on behalf of the biotech industry against the bill while the Liberal position has been somewhat murkier. “History has shown that when push comes to shove the government has repeatedly sided with companies like Monsanto ahead of the business interests of Canadian farmers,” said Atamanenko. “

According to Atamanenko alfalfa is not only important to conventional farming but it is a particularly valuable crop to organic farmers who use it to fix nitrogen and as a soil-building component in their crop rotations. Losing this crop would severely hamper their ability to maintain soil fertility. Also at risk are the organic livestock and dairy markets which need feed that is GE free.

“It would be the ultimate betrayal for the Prime Minister to remain silent while the stage is set for Monsanto to irrevocably control this vital crop at the expense of Canada’s entire domestic and organic markets,” he concluded.