If the agribusiness industry gets its way, farmers on Prince Edward Island could be growing genetically engineered beets for biofuel as early as this spring. Despite widespread evidence of environmental and socioeconomic dangers of the plan, the Canadian government appears stubborn to go ahead. To raise awareness among farmers and the wider public in Prince Edward Island, the Council of Canadians have organised a public forum on concerns about transgenic beets. Genetically engineered beets pose a danger of cross breeding with wild weeds to produce transgenic superweeds. In an article in Plant Physiology, Norman Ellstrand, an expert on weed botany, pointed out that in Europe, wild beets have already become a serious weed. If the Roundup Ready gene were to escape into the wild, it could be an ecological and agricultural disaster. Moreover, trading cropland for food to fuel for cars decreases food security for dubious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Let’s keep beets sweet, and GE free!
Monday, February 4, 2008 at 7:30 pm
The Murphy Community Centre (formerly the Basilica Rec Centre), Richmond Street, Charlottetown
The Council of Canadians (PEI) will hold a public meeting and panel discussion on "The False Promise of Biofuels for PEI and elsewhere" on Monday, February 4, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. at the Murphy Community Center in Charlottetown, Room 205.
Three well-known Islanders will tackle the issue of "The False Promise of Biofuels for PEI" from various perspectives. The speakers are farmer Danny Hendricken, District Director for PEI with National Farmers' Union; environmentalist Sharon Labchuk, campaigner with Earth Action; and scientist Dr. Kirk Brown, former research director at the Institute of Man and Resources and first CEO of the PEI Energy Corporation, and for a number of years a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the Atlantic Wind Test Site at North Cape.
Biofuels are at the centre of a new commitment by the P.E.I. government to have 30 per cent of energy used on the Island come from renewable resources by 2016. The PEI Government is being lobbied and may be set to subsidize a $40 million ethanol plant to be supplied by sugar beet, a crop that has never before been grown on PEI.
The Council of Canadians is encouraging the public to attend this important first meeting on "The False Promise of BIOFUELS for PEI and elsewhere." There will be plenty of opportunity during the meeting for concerned citizens to have their say as the 'growing of food for cars' is emerging as a major issue.
Biotech critics challenging Monsanto GMO sugar beet
Wed Jan 23, 2008
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Opponents of biotech crops said on Wednesday they were filing a lawsuit to challenge the USDA's deregulation of Monsanto Co's genetically engineered sugar beet because of fears of "biological contamination" and other harm to the environment.
The Center for Food Safety, the Sierra Club and two organic seed groups said the lawsuit involved the United States Department of Agriculture's approval of Monsanto's glyphosate-resistant sugar beet, which is engineered to withstand treatment of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.
The "Roundup Ready" sugar beets are slated to be grown on a commercial scale for the first time in the United States this year, the groups said.
Neither Monsanto nor USDA officials could be reached immediately for comment.
The groups said the wind-pollinated biotech sugar beets will cross-pollinate and contaminate conventional sugar beets, organic chard and table beet crops.
As well, the groups said the biotech sugar beets will increase the recent rise of weeds resistant to herbicide, which have been reported on 2.4 million acres of U.S. cropland, the groups said.
"The law requires the government to take a hard look at the impact that deregulating Roundup Ready sugar beets will have on human health, agriculture and the environment," said Greg Loarie, an attorney at the Earthjustice law firm, which is helping represent the plaintiffs. "The government cannot simply ignore the fact that deregulation will harm organic farmers and consumers, and exacerbate the growing epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds."
The lawsuit is similar to one biotech crop opponents filed over the USDA's deregulation of Monsanto's genetically altered alfalfa, which led a federal judge last year to issue a nationwide ban against the planting of the Roundup Ready alfalfa. The judge found that U.S. regulators improperly allowed the commercialization of the biotech alfalfa without a thorough examination of its effects.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam, editing by Jackie Frank)