The recent push for genetically engineered beets for biofuels on Prince Edward Island could sideline a three year old recommendation from the province's agriculture committee to make PEI GE free. Farmers and environmentalists have been unequivocal that introducing genetically engineered crops to the region could jeopardize markets as well as disrupt the island’s fragile ecology. PEI farmers obtain premiums on their GE free soy from highly prized Japanese markets. Residents do not want to see the widespread contamination for GE crops that has disrupted ecosystems across the prairies. The government should listen to their export customers, farmers, environmentalists, and consumers. The agriculture minister Neil LeClair says he has not had time to look into the issue. If that is the case, he must take a precautionary approach and hold off on allowing new GE biofuel crops until he has had a chance to fully consider the ramifications of his policies, and until he can understand the will of the vast majority of his constituents.
GMOs on P.E.I. still under review: minister
Monday, January 28, 2008
With government attention focused on the crisis in the livestock industry, Agriculture Minister Neil LeClair says there has been no time to look at the planting of genetically modified crops on P.E.I.
P.E.I. Agriculture Minister Neil LeClair said there are deep divisions in the agriculture community about the use of GMOs.
Hundreds more hectares of genetically modified corn and sugarbeets will be planted on the Island this spring. Last week, Danny Hendricken, district director for the National Farmers Union, said the window of opportunity for making the Island GMO-free was closing.
Farmers and environmentalists spoke in favour of going GMO-free at legislature committee hearings in 2005, but the former Progressive Conservative government elected to maintain the status quo.
In an e-mail to CBC News Friday, LeClair said the government is interested in revisiting the issue, but has been too busy with other agriculture issues.
"Since its election this past May, the Liberal government of Prince Edward Island has been dealing with a number of major issues in the industry, including the future of the beef and hog plants, rising input costs for all sectors of the agriculture industry, currency fluctuations which affect the value of our exports, improvements in safety net programs for producers and new initiatives to encourage sustainable production practices," LeClair said.
He wrote that his department will review the findings of the 2005 hearings, as well as more recent developments concerning the use of GMOs around the world.
"There are deep divisions around the use of genetically modified organisms in the agriculture industry," he wrote.
LeClair said there will be no policy announcements regarding GMOs until the review of the hearings and current developments is completed.