January 23, 2009, Guelph, Ontario – Tonight in Guelph, Tom Stearns President of High Mowing Organic Seeds based in Vermont, will speak to an audience at the Organic Conference about the risks that genetically modified (GM) sugar beet pose to organic farmers.
GM sugar beet was grown in Ontario last year for the first time and Ontario is currently the only province where GM sugar beet is grown in Canada (the sugar beet is processed in the U.S. by Michigan Sugar). The sugar processing company Rogers/Lantic is about to decide if they will accept GM sugar beet from Alberta farmers for the first time this year.
“GM sugar beet poses a grave threat to organic farmers and to all of those who want to know what they are eating,” said Tom Stearns, “There are much better forms of progress that our agriculture can take than coming up with a crude technological fix that allows us to continue farming in unsustainable ways.”
Genetically modified to resist Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, the wind-pollinated GM sugar beets will inevitably cross-pollinate with related crops grown in close proximity, contaminating conventional sugar beets and organic chard and table beet crops.
“Canadian consumers are really concerned that our domestic sugar will soon be processed from Monsanto’s GM sugar beet,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network who will speak on the panel with Stearns. “The company Rogers/Lantic needs take a decision to exclude GM sugar beet and enjoy the market advantage of remaining a Canadian-made source of GM-Free sugar.”
The panel titled “Genetic Engineering & Our Organic Future” will be moderated by Colleen Ross, Women’s President of the National Farmers Union, and include Ontario organic seed grower Kim Delaney who will speak about the threats of GM to organic farmers. Dag Falck of Nature’s Path and Julie Daniluk of The Big Carrot retailer in Toronto will also join the panel to talk about how companies and retailers are successfully excluding GM ingredients.
In January 2008, High Mowing Organic Seeds, with Organic Seed Alliance, Sierra Club, and the Center for Food Safety, filed suit in U.S. federal court challenging the approval of GM sugar beets and seeking a thorough assessment of environmental, health, and associated economic impacts.
For More Information: Tom Stearns, President, High Mowing Organic Seeds, cell: 802-244-6301; Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, firstname.lastname@example.org, 613 241 2267 ext. 5