Bill C-474 moves forward!

Chock one up for the little guy!

Thanks for everyone who wrote to their MP’s regarding this important issue. There is a long fight ahead but the vote last week is an important step in the right direction. It is heartening to see that once in a while our voices can be heard over the hollering (and big money) of the agri-industry.

Keep writing and sharing information about this important issue. The best offense we have against this kind of insanity is to arm ourselves with knowledge and to speak out.

First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win.                                        – Ghandhi

Here are a couple of press releases from the NFU and CBAN:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE APRIL 15, 2010

PASSAGE OF C-474 IMPORTANT VICTORY FOR FARMERS

SASKATOON, Sask.—“Yesterday’s vote to send Bill C-474 forward to the Agriculture Committee for detailed analysis and debate is an important victory and major step in trying to protect farmers and the Canadian economy from the economic disaster that GM crops can create,” said NFU President Terry Boehm.

As the text of the Bill states, C-474 would “require that an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.”

Boehm said: “Triffid flax has demonstrated the serious consequences GM contamination can have.  It is time now for the Agriculture Committee to make the Bill a functional reality in our regulatory system—it is not time to kill the idea of market harm assessment.”

“This bill will not impede innovation,” said Boehm.  “Instead, it will make innovators conscious that their work needs to benefit a broad cross-section of society—not just the company selling the product.  This is only logical for a healthy society and economy.”

Boehm urged MPs not to be swayed by pressure or threats from biotech companies.  “The biotech industry has threatened Canadians before; companies said that they would pull out and shut down research when citizens overwhelmingly wanted their food labelled for GM content.  MPs bought that bogus argument at the time.  Let’s hope that MPs do not accept it with regard to C-474.  Unfortunately, most Conservatives MPs have already bought that argument—with the exception of two brave Members from that party.  Let’s hope the rest of our minority-Parliament MPs act for farmers and citizens and do not accept the threats of the biotech industry. We will all be stronger and better off if they stand up to these threats,” said Boehm.

Boehm dismissed arguments that our system must be guided solely by so-called “science-based” calculations.  He said: “There is an almost superstitious belief that ‘science-based’ means infallible or beyond question—that someone has ‘proven’ food A or B is 100% safe.  In reality, so-called science-based assessments are largely based on data submitted by companies seeking to sell products.  The data is the result of limited testing.  And there is little independent verification done in government labs.  Most important, so-called science-based assessment of human-health safety or ‘substantial equivalence’ is largely a simple risk assessment—primarily a mathematical calculation of probability.  Once we realize this, it is only rational to ask: In what way is this mathematical probability assessment of human health harm superior to a mathematical assessment of market harm?  Why should an economic analysis which is also mathematically based be so scary to the biotech industry?”

“All farmers and Canadians should act promptly to ensure Bill C-474 becomes law,” concluded Boehm.

—30—

For more information:

Terry Boehm, NFU President:                     (306) 255-2880

Darrin Qualman, Director of Research:         (306) 652-9465

MPs listen to Canadians ahead of industry on GM Crops

Groups applaud MPs for moving Bill C-474 to Committee for study

For Immediate Release

Ottawa. Thursday, April 15, 2010 – Last night, Parliament passed Private Members Bill C-474 through second reading, in spite of intense pressure from the biotech industry. The Bill, which would require analysis of potential harm to export markets before the sale of new genetically modified (GM) seeds, will now be studied by the House of Commons Agriculture Committee.

“Finally MPs are taking steps to protect farmers from the economic chaos that GM crops can cause,” said Terry Boehm, President of the National Farmers Union, “GM contamination has already seriously damaged major export markets for Canadian flax farmers and would threaten the markets for our alfalfa and wheat growers.”

The NDP and Bloc Quebecois supports the Bill and last night Liberal Party MPs voted to allow the Bill to go to this next stage. The Conservative Party strongly opposes the Bill, though two B.C. Conservative MPs voted in favour. The Bill was introduced by Alex Atamanenko, NDP Agriculture Critic and MP for B.C. Southern Interior.

“Last night, the majority of MPs listened to Canadians instead of the biotech industry,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, “MPs will now have the opportunity to study and debate this Bill. We are witnessing the first substantive debate in Parliament over the negative impacts of GM crops.”

The biotech industry lobbied vigorously to stop the upcoming debate at Committee. Yet the strength of public and farmer concern over GM crops was apparent to MPs. Over 9000 thousand letters were sent from constituents in the past month asking MPs to support the Bill. At least 6 MPs were also presented with petitions.

Bill C-474 was supported by the National Farmers Union, which urged Parliamentarians and all Canadians, to support the Bill. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture took a cautious stance in favour of moving the Bill forward, to encourage debate at Committee.

“The current GM flax contamination crisis shows the value of this Bill. And the threat of GM alfalfa has made the Bill an urgent necessity,” said Sharratt. Canadian flax export markets closed in October 2009 when GM contamination was detected.

“We will not stand by and watch farmers struggle alone against the corporate juggernaut of biotechnology,” said Sharratt, “The time when Canadians are expected to accept GM crops without question, is over.”

-30-

For more information: Terry Boehm, National Farmers Union, 306 255 2880;  Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext.6.

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