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History and Accomplishments
The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) was formed from a collaboration that began in 1999 when 23 environmental, social justice and consumer groups met in Ottawa to create an informal partnership on the issue of genetic engineering. Among other victories, these organizations worked together to successfully stop the introduction of Bovine Growth Hormone in Canadian milk production and pressured Monsanto to abandon introduction of genetically engineered (GE) wheat in North America. For 6 years we shared information and coordinated common actions on issues raised by genetic engineering such as the need for democratic debate, precautionary decision-making and mandatory labelling as well as issues surrounding regulation, sustainable farming and corporate control in agriculture.
Through national meetings in 2006, a consensus emerged that new momentum and resources were needed in the movement against genetic engineering in Canada. Groups from across Canada agreed to create CBAN to assist research and monitoring, support grassroots action and coordinate action at the national and international levels. CBAN tested the value and power of our new, strengthened collaboration when in March 2006 we thwarted Canadian Government’s attempt to lift the international moratorium on Terminator seeds. In October 2006, CBAN held its first annual Annual General Meeting in Vancouver and in January 2007 we officially started our first fiscal year as a project of Tides Canada Initiatives (now MakeWay).
Major Movement Accomplishments
Shutting down the GM pig called “Enviropig” in 2012 is the fifth major success for Canadians in the global struggle against genetic engineering. We have also stopped Monsanto’s Bovine Growth Hormone in Canada (1999) and Monsanto’s GM insect resistant “New Leaf” potatoes (2005). In 2004, we stopped Monsanto’s GM herbicide-tolerant “Roundup Ready” wheat with our U.S. friends – though the industry is trying again to push GM wheat and we may need to re-activate our opposition. In 2006, Canadian action was also a critical part of the international movement that strengthened the United Nations moratorium on Terminator technology (GM seeds engineered to be sterile after first harvest). Details on these cases are below and further yearly summaries of success are detailed in our Annual Reports.
We have proven time and time again that people’s actions can work. In the absence of democratic regulation and policy on genetic engineering, we can still make change happen. Our successes in Canada have important global impact.
Thanks to the support of scores of individuals and many dedicated organizations, CBAN analyses the implications of new technologies while keeping a critical eye on government regulation and corporate activities. CBAN invites you to take action with us.
Enviropig: CBAN Shuts Down the GM Pig, 2012
CBAN’s sustained national campaign succeeded in shutting down the GM pig called “Enviropig” that was set to be the first GM animal in the world. CBAN coordinated and supported grassroots actions that called for an end to the GM pig. We also worked behind the scenes. CBAN’s direct interventions with decision-makers at the university and in the farming community supported the voices of grassroots actions and ultimately led to the final decision to shut down the research in 2012.
Terminator Seeds: International Moratorium Maintained, March 31, 2006
CBAN Members stopped the Canadian Government from trying to overturn the moratorium on Terminator technology at the United Nations. At a major UN meeting in March 2006, CBAN worked closely with the peasant movement Via Campesina and groups and movements from around the world in the International Ban Terminator Campaign. For the full story and updates: www.cban.ca/terminator or www.banterminator.org
Genetically Engineered Wheat: Monsanto Withdraws Application for Approval 2004
In 2004, after farmers and farm organizations in Canada made it clear that GE wheat would ruin their export markets, and consumers made it clear they did not want to eat Monsanto’s herbicide resistant wheat, Monsanto wisely chose to withdraw its application. For the full story and updates: www.cban.ca/GEwheat
Bovine Growth Hormone: Health Canada Denies Monsanto Approval 1999
In 2004, after 10 years of protest from farmers and consumers across Canada led by the now CBAN Members the National Farmers Union and The Council of Canadians, the Government of Canada denied approval for Monsanto’s genetically engineered drug to make dairy cows produce more milk. For the full story: “No to BGH: Ten Years of Resistance”, Lucy Sharratt in Redesigning Life?: The Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering, ed. Brian Tokar, Zed Books, 2001.