Canadian farmers are justifiably requesting that Lawrence MacAulay, the Canadian Agri-Minister, immediately act to halt the sale of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa seed by Forage Genetics International, a Monsanto licensee.
Many farmers have been concerned that their alfalfa will be contaminated by GM alfalfa grown in the U.S. Canada’s National Farmers Union (NFU) has asked the Minister to put border controls in place to stop the continued cross-pollination of non-GM alfalfa with seed that has already been compromised.
A USDA study has confirmed the agency’s own original forecast that GM alfalfa would promiscuously contaminate the non-GM crop. This news follows years of contamination incidents, leading to lawsuits between farmers growing organic, non-GM crops and farmers growing genetically modified crops. Monsanto’s GM alfalfa is largely the culprit.
Jan Slomp, NFU President says:
“The NFU has seen a letter from FGI which says the company may start selling genetically modified alfalfa seed in Eastern Canada for spring planting. This would be a disaster for farmers because, once it has been planted, there would be no way to stop the GM trait from spreading to organic and conventional farms and crops. There are many domestic and export markets that completely reject alfalfa seeds, hay or pellets with any GM content. Clearly, the Minister needs to take action to protect the interests of Canadian farmers before it is too late.”
Peter Eggers, NFU Region 8 (Peace River and BC) Coordinator joined in Mr. Slomp’s concern:
“Last week the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties passed a resolution to prevent the introduction of GM alfalfa into Alberta until there is market and consumer acceptance. If GM alfalfa is sold in eastern Canada, it would only be a matter of time before it spreads into the West. FGI should not be allowed to sell a product that would cause so much harm to farmers all across Canada.”
“In light of the recent media report of an Alberta seed grower who suspects seed he purchased from the USA was contaminated with herbicide-tolerant GM varieties, we are also concerned about contamination from imported seed. A 2015 USDA study shows that GM alfalfa genes have escaped and are being spread throughout the countryside by pollinators. American alfalfa seed production is therefore at high risk for contamination. We shouldn’t be allowing FGI’s product to enter by the back door either.”
Slomp says that farmers should not purchase alfalfa from the US since it is likely contaminated – even if it isn’t specifically GM alfalfa. Slomp suggests that farmers seek out Canadian growers to protect their own crops. She said:
“It is legal for farmers to sell farm-saved seed from older varieties that are in the public domain. There are only two registered alfalfa varieties, AC Grazeland BR and Yellowhead, that are not in the public domain.”