Farmers hope to convince feds to stop genetically modified alfalfa

The National Farmers Union was the driving force behind a day of action to stop the approval of genetically modified alfalfa

The National Farmers Union was the driving force behind a day of action to stop the approval of genetically modified alfalfa

Tammy Van Troost wants Sarnia-Lambton MP Pat Davidson to know genetically modified alfalfa isn’t needed.

Van Troost, who is the head of the Lambton County National Farmers Union, met with the MP as part of a province wide effort to stop the alfalfa from being approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

A company by the name of Forage Genetics International has already received one level of approval for the alfalfa which uses Monsanto’s genetic modification technology. It only needs approval from CFIA variety registration to be legal for sale.

But Van Troost says there is no need for the genetically modified seed since “farmers grow alfalfa to fix nitrogen in the soil” and they are “mostly looking to have a break from spreading (the pesticide) Round Up.”

The other big concern according to Van Troost is cross contamination to fields which were not using genetically modified seed. “There are no little bee fences out there to stop it,” says Van Troost. “Then Monsanto can hold those farmers responsible for use the technology even though they didn’t have the intention of using it…they didn’t plant it.”

And that cross contamination could be a big problem for organic farmers who use alfalfa extensively. Farmers would lose their organic certification if genetically modified products are used.

Tuesday, the NFU held protests in dozens of cities through Ontario to bring attention to the coming decision. Van Troost met Friday with Davidson to raise local concerns.

“She was surprised with the wide-spread action,” says Van Troost. “She said she would talk with other MPs about what their perception is of this at Parliament Hill.”

But Van Troost says there isn’t much time left. While CFIA doesn’t have a firm date for a decision, she says it could happen in a matter of weeks and be in use in Eastern Canada shortly after that.

– Heather Wright

 

 

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