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Saying No to Monsanto in Manitoba
For release at 10 am CDT, November 23, 2010 – Winnipeg, Manitoba
Monsanto has invited Manitoba Agricultural Minister Stan Struthers along with other government and industry representatives to a free lunch to celebrate the opening of the Monsanto Canada’s new $12 million Canola Breeding Centre at One Research Road at the University of Manitoba. Not everyone was invited to the table. A group of citizens gathered outside the facility Tuesday morning to raise concerns about the risks of genetically engineered (GE) crops to farmers, human health, and the environment.
“The University of Manitoba has become home to one of the worst corporate citizens on the planet. Monsanto’s operations poison the environment with chemicals, steal from farmers their age-old right to save seeds and threaten biodiversity by proliferating genetically engineered crops. There is nothing to celebrate with the opening of this new facility,” said Alon Weinberg, a University of Manitoba graduate student.
Monsanto is the largest producer of GE crops worldwide. Canola is one of Canada’s most valuable crops. GE canola has been grown in Manitoba since 1996. Almost all GE canola is herbicide resistant, allowing farmers to spray pesticides on the crops, killing weeds but not the plants. Since the 1990s, accidental crossbreeding between GE and non-GE varieties has become ubiquitous. Because contamination is so widespread, Manitoba farmers are unable to grow organic or conventional non-GE canola. Several markets including Japan, the European Union and much of the Middle East now have restrictions against Manitoba’s canola exports.
In 2008, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, a United Nations sponsored multi-year expert study on the future of agriculture found that GE crops will not have a significant role in feeding the world, reducing poverty or protecting the environment. Investments in sustainable agriculture and organic farming will yield much greater rewards. 60 countries, representing two thirds of the world’s population signed on to the report’s conclusions.
“In light of what scientists and the international community have discovered, Monsanto’s GE breeding facility in Manitoba will do nothing to advance the interests of farmers or increase food security. The province and the University should be putting investments into ecological agriculture and making food that Canadians and our export markets actually want to eat,” said Weinberg.
GE labelling and tighter environmental and health assessments prevent Canada from exporting GE canola and other GE crops to many important markets around the world. On December 7th, MPs will vote on Bill C-474, a private member’s bill to provide assessments of how new GE crops could affect export markets.
Contacts: Alon Weinberg, available onsite; home: (204) 783-3559;
Josh Brandon, cell: (204) 898-6460
Background: GE Canola: Out of Control in Canada