Torontonians Protest with Farmers to Stop Release of GM Alfalfa

For Immediate Release

Torontonians Protest with Farmers to Stop Release of GM Alfalfa

38 actions across Canada respond to farmer call for action

Toronto -  

Where:

Outside the St. Lawrence Market, 95 Front St. E.

When:

Tuesday April 9, 2013, 12 noon to 1 pm.

Who:

The Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa was called by the National Farmers Union-Ontario.

The Toronto event is hosted by The Big Carrot Natural Food Market, No More GMOs Toronto, Kids Right to Know March, Millions Against Monsanto Toronto, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Canadian Organic Growers Toronto and Occupy Gardens Toronto

Why:

If GM alfalfa is commercially released, GM alfalfa will inevitably cross-pollinate with non-GM and organic alfalfa and threaten the livelihoods of family farmers in Ontario and across Canada.

Visuals:

Hundreds of people with large colourful signage, animal and vegetable costumes, music etc, handing out packages of organic alfalfa seeds.

At noon today, hundreds of Torontonians will join local farmers to demand the federal Minister of Agriculture step in to stop the release genetically modified (GM) alfalfa, that farmers say threatens their livelihoods and their ability to produce the local food consumers want.

The April 9 Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa was called for by the National Farmers Union (NFU)-Ontario and today’s protest in Toronto was organized by The Big Carrot Natural Food Market, No More GMOs Toronto, Kids Right to Know March, Millions Against Monsanto Toronto, Canadian Organic Growers Toronto and the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. 38 actions happened at noon today, 17 of which were in Ontario.

“The release of GM alfalfa would threaten my farm, and farms across Ontario, “ said Sarah Bakker, who raises grass-fed beef and pastured pork in Bobcaygeon outside of Toronto, and is a member of the National Farmers Union-Ontario. Alfalfa is often in a mix of grasses in pasture and hay. “GM herbicide tolerant alfalfa is useless and destructive, and needs to be stopped before it contaminates our farms. The costs of dealing with GM alfalfa contamination would be a nightmare for Ontario farmers.”

Protestors will gather outside the St Lawrence Market in Toronto in solidarity with farmers who are fighting the introduction of GM alfalfa. US company Forage Genetics International wants to release alfalfa seeds with Monsanto’s GM herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) technology this year, and says it will introduce GM alfalfa into Eastern Canada first. Local groups are asking Toronto Members of Parliament to take action on their behalf.

“Our customers are concerned about the impact GM alfalfa would have on our whole food system. Alfalfa is used to produce a lot of the foods we eat including milk, meat and even vegetables and grains,” said Sarah Dobec of The Big Carrot Natural Market in Toronto, “We can’t just stand by and watch big companies put our local farmers at risk.”

“If farmers ask us for our help, we’re going to do everything we can to support them,” said Heather Lee of the grassroots group No More GMOs Toronto. “We rely on our local farmers and value all the hard work it takes to make the food we eat. We refuse to accept that companies like Monsanto can make farming even harder by contaminating farmers’ fields with patented genes that no one wants.”

“We all need more control over the food we eat, but biotech companies take that away with every new GM crop,” said nutritionist, author and TV presenter Julie Daniluk who spoke at the rally. “Healthy food needs to be our priority, not corporate profits.”
A full list of 38 actions is posted at www.cban.ca/april9

For more information: Sarah Bakker, Field Sparrow Farms, 705 341-6007; Sarah Dobec The Big Carrot, cell: 416-371-3471, 416-466-2129 x226.

Additonal Info:

The event will be MC’d by 13 year old Rachel Parent, the Founder of GMOs Kids Right to Know Walk, and Julie Daniluk, RHN.

 

Speakers include James Connor from Millions against Monsanto Toronto.

 

Opportunities will be provided for interviews to take place with:

 

Sarah Bakker - Field Sparrow Farms (grass-fed beef and pastured pork) and National Farmers Union - Ontario (member)

Sarah Dobec - The Big Carrot

Tanmayo Krupanszky - Canadian Organic Growers - Toronto Chapter

Rachel Parent - Founder of the Kids Right to Know March

James Connor - Millions against Monsanto Toronto

Jennifer Berman Diaz - Millions against Monsanto Toronto

Heather Lee - No More GMOs Toronto

 

Both conventional and organic farmers have spoken out against this product! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qkWfGXlU8gA

 

"Farmers are not asking for genetically modified roundup ready alfalfa. If it is commercially released in Canada it will not benefit farmers but it will benefit multinational seed and chemical companies. As an organic farmer, alfalfa is an essential crop on my farm both as a livestock feed and as a soil builder. Farmers know insects will spread GM alfalfa pollen to non-GM alfalfa plants - genetic contamination is inevitable. The survival of organic farms will be at risk if GM alfalfa is released in Canada. The people who grow and harvest food and the people who eat food should control the seeds we plant and the crops we grow - not multinational seed and chemical companies. As farmers, we need the people who eat the food we grow to stand with us and say no GM alfalfa in Canada.” - Ann Slater, Oxford County Organic Vegetable and Sheep farmer

 

The company Forage Genetics International has applied Monsanto's GM herbicide tolerant Roundup Ready technology to alfalfa. Canada approved GM alfalfa for health and environmental release in 2005 but there is one more step before GM alfalfa can be commercially released in Canada: variety registration from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. This step could be completed as early as this spring.

 

Alfalfa is used to help produce many of the foods we eat! Alfalfa (commonly harvested as hay) is a high-protein fed to animals like dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, poultry and pigs. It‘s also used to build nutrients and organic matter in the soil, making it particularly important for organic farming.

 

Alfalfa is a perennial plant that is insect pollinated, therefore, if GM alfalfa is commercially released, GM alfalfa will inevitably cross-pollinate with non-GM and organic alfalfa and threaten the livelihoods of family farmers in Ontario and across Canada. As prairie alfalfa seed growers and farmers have already rejected GM alfalfa, the seed industry now says they only want to introduce GM alfalfa into Eastern Canada.

CBAN’s April 4th report The Inevitability of Contamination for GM Alfalfa Released in Ontario: http://www.cban.ca/Press/Press-Releases/New-Report-Warns-of-Inevitable-C...

 

More Information:

For more information on GM Alfalfa: www.cban.ca/alfalfa

For Toronto Action Info and Posters: www.cban.ca/april9toronto

For inquires about the Toronto Day of Action: info@nomoregmos.ca

Media Contacts for the Toronto Day of Action:

(Prior to April 9th) Sarah Dobec - The Big Carrot 416-466-2129 x 226

(On April 9th) Jennifer Berman Diaz - Millions against Monsanto Toronto 647-980-4686

(On April 9th) Sarah Bakker - Field Sparrow Farms 705-341-6007

Other inquiries: Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network 613 241 2267 ext 25 coordinator@cban.ca

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