Organic farmers in Ontario are facing a new threat that has the capacity to destroy their crops and livelihoods. Monsanto, the massive worldwide biotechnology corporation, has developed a new genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready-resistant alfalfa that awaits final approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and could be planted in Ontario fields as soon as the end of the month. Prairie farmers have already rejected GM alfalfa so now the industry is trying to introduce it in Eastern Canada.
Alfalfa is high-protein feed for animals like dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, poultry, and pigs. So even if you don’t like it on your sandwiches or salad, if you eat meat, you’ve likely eaten alfalfa indirectly. Of course, GM labeling on foods is not mandatory in Canada, so if it’s introduced, it’s unlikely you’ll ever know if you’ve eaten GM alfalfa.
Alfalfa is also a perennial plant, pollinated by bees. That means, if it is introduced into Ontario, cross-contamination between organic and GM alfalfa crops is inevitable. Also, GM alfalfa will ruin export markets for organic alfalfa products, contaminate family farms, and make it more difficult for farmers to control weeds. Ultimately it threatens the future of organic food and farming in Canada.
That’s why the National Farmers Union-Ontario (NFU-O) has issued a call for action. Alongside the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), of which Greenpeace Canada is a proud member, NFU-O has organized a Day of Action tomorrow, April 9, across Canada. There will be 38 rallies outside government and corporate offices from Whitehorse YT to Wolfville NS, farmers and their friends will stand up to Monsanto and industry plans for GM alfalfa.
There are ways that you can help.
Come out tomorrow to a rally near you (for a full listing of rally locations, visit www.cban.ca/april9). Bring your friends and family, homemade signs – whatever you need to make your voice heard.
Help promote the Day of Action in your community through social media. Use Facebook and Twitter to share information with your friends.
Contact local media to tell them about your concerns over GM alfalfa, and encourage them to cover the rallies.
Email, call, or write to your Member of Parliament (you can search for your MP using your postal code at www.parl.gc.ca) and the Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz () demanding they stop the release of GM alfalfa in Ontario.
We hope you can lend your voice and body tomorrow to the fight against GM alfalfa. Farmers all across the province need you.
For more information about GM alfalfa, visit www.cban.ca/alfalfa.