Wednesday, February 9, 2011. Ottawa – Today in Ottawa Members of Parliament will vote on the one-line Private Members Bill C-474 which would require that “an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.”
The biotech industry has come out in full force to try and stop this Bill that simply asks the government to assess the risks that new genetically engineered crops could pose to our export markets,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network at a press conference on Parliament Hill this morning. “Surely our government should know what a genetically engineered crop will mean to farmers before it’s introduced? Members of Parliament should consider why the industry is so scared of us knowing the potential harm to export markets.”
Most members of the House of Commons Agriculture and Agri-Food Committee will not be in Ottawa to vote on the Bill today. “Its outrageous that instead of being at the vote in Ottawa, most Agriculture Committee members are actually in Guelph listening to the President of Monsanto Canada,” said Maureen Bostock, speaking for the National Farmers Union.
The Committee is touring universities across Canada this week as part of their biotech study to look at ways to “foster a more innovative and flexible biotech industry”. The study was set up after Liberals and Conservatives shut down the hearings on Bill C-474. Today, MPs will be in Guelph where they will hear testimony from the President of Monsanto Canada, among other witnesses, and then tour of the University of Guelph. Today, students at the university have organized a rally to protest the University of Guelph’s GE pig called “Enviropig” which threatens to harm hog producers’ markets.
“The need for Bill C-474 is more urgent that ever because of the harm farmers foresee with GE alfalfa. Conventional and organic farmers are united in opposition to GE alfalfa but there seems to be nowhere to turn for help,” said Bostock. “Its time farmers had a say in the future of GE crops and animals.”
Private Members Bill C-474 was introduced by NDP Agriculture Critic and MP for BC Southern Interior, Alex Atamanenko. The Bill has gone further than any other Bill on genetic engineering and spurred a 51/2 hour debate last night.
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext 25; Maureen Bostock, National Farmers Union, 613 259 5757.