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Students, Farmers and Consumers Join Together

February 9, 2011, Guelph – Today on the University of Guelph campus, 12:30 to 1:00, students were joined by farmers and consumers at a rally to protest the University of Guelph’s genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered or GE) pig, called « Enviropig™”, that could be approved for market in Canada soon. Members of the House of Commons Agriculture Committee are touring campus today as part of their biotech study.

Over 150 people participated in today’s “Pig Rally: Stop UofG’s Enviropig™” sponsored by the OPIRG Guelph (Ontario Public Interest Research Group) student group as well as the Ecological Farmers of Ontario, the National Farmers Union Ontario, The Big Carrot Natural Market in Toronto, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, and The Council of Canadians Guelph Chapter.

“This GM pig could ruin the trust Canadians have in our pork,” said Sean McGivern, Regional Coordinator of the National Farmers Union Ontario and a hog and cattle producer. “I’m very worried that a decision by Health Canada to approve the GM pig will trigger a consumer backlash against eating pork. It’s down to the University of Guelph to cancel their request for approval. This is the only way to protect our markets.”

“We can’t trust our university to be unbiased in this debate because they will profit from the GE pig,” said Terran Giacomini, a sociology student at the University and student representative with the OPIRG Guelph group on campus, “Our university needs to take responsibility for the fact that no one seems to want what they’re selling.”

The Guelph students were joined by a busload of concerned consumers from Toronto. The Big Carrot Natural Market in Toronto hired a coach to transport its customers to the Guelph rally. “The idea of GM pork is appalling to our customers and to most Canadians,” said Patrick Conner of The Big Carrot.

“GM pork won’t even be labeled in the grocery store so consumers like me won’t have a choice. We will have to boycott Canadian pork to avoid eating GM pork,” said Jody Cummins-Lambert, a Guelph resident and mother of one.

Protesters wore pig snouts and together made the sign “UofG Stop EnviropigTM”. People also had signs that said “No GM Pork on My Fork” “This Pig Has Been Greenwashed” “We ‘heart’ Pigs” “I don’t accept GMOs” and a banner reading “UofGE: Changing Pigs, Selling Life” which is a spoof of a much-used slogan of the University: “Changing Lives, Improving Life”.

For more information and photos and video: Sean McGivern, National Farmers Union Ontario, Cell: 519 374 9300; Patrick Connor, The Big Carrot, Cell: 647 200 7591: Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext 25 www.cban.ca/enviropig