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Guelph. Monday, February 7, 2011 – Tonight at the University of Guelph, farmers will voice their concerns about the negative economic impacts of genetic engineering (GE).

The public forum “Facing the Negative Impacts of Genetic Engineering on Farmers: GE Alfalfa, GE Pigs and Bill C-474” comes just two days before the final vote on Bill C-474 which would require that the federal government conduct an analysis of potential harm to export markets before new GE seeds are permitted.

It’s a busy week for biotech at the University of Guelph. Members of Parliament will tour the campus on Wednesday to hear from university officials as part of the House of Commons Agriculture Committee study on the biotechnology industry.

“Our politicians need to face the reality that some GE crops can harm farmers’ businesses,” said Roger Rivest an organic grain farmer who will speak on behalf of the Ecological Farmers of Ontario at the Monday night event, “The burden of risks and costs from GE crops always seems to fall on farmers’ shoulders. I’ve had to deal with the costs of segregation and testing for contamination in soy, corn and flax already. Now GM alfalfa is a huge worry,” said Rivest, who also processes alfalfa into pellets.

“Our MPs are getting a tour of the university on Wednesday but they should have stayed in the House of Commons to vote yes to Bill C-474,” said Sean McGivern, Regional Coordinator of the National Farmers Union Ontario and a cattle and hog farmer.

McGiven expressed particular concern about the university’s push to commercialize the GE pig it calls ‘Enviropig’, “Ontario’s hog producers can’t afford to take another hit,” said McGivern, “The university should withdraw its request to Health Canada before the GM pig is approved and triggers a consumer backlash that hurts our bottom line.”

The panel will be moderated by Jodi Koberinski, Executive Director of the Organic Council of Ontario and the will include Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

The event is sponsored by The Big Carrot Natural Market, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Council of Canadians Guelph Chapter, Ecological Farmers of Ontario, Guelph PIRG, Organic Council of Ontario, and the National Farmers Union Ontario.

On Wednesday February 9, students are also hosting a “Pig Rally: Stop UofG’s ‘Enviropig’” 12:30-1:00 at The Cannon on campus.

For more information: Sean McGivern, National Farmers Union Ontario, 519 374 9300; Roger Rivest, Ecological Farmers Ontario, Cell: 519 818 0937; Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Cell: 613 263 9511; Jodi Koberinski, Organic Council of OntarioCell: 519 998 4992.