Manitobans opposed to genetically engineered alfalfa are taking their fight to the legislature.
A petition started by the Manitoba Green Party is being circulated throughout the province to keep genetically engineered pesticide-resistant alfalfa crops out of Manitoba.
“Manitoba needs to take action for change; we can be a catalyst for change and set an example for other provinces,” said Green Party Leader James Beddome, who started the petition after the USDA approved Roundup Ready alfalfa in January.
The petition calls for legislation preventing new GE crops from being grown in Manitoba and calls on the province to lobby the Canadian and U.S. governments as well as neighbouring provinces and states to either prohibit GE alfalfa or create border buffer zones sufficient to prevent cross-border contamination.
The federal Liberal party is also calling for an immediate moratorium on the possible commercialization of genetically engineered alfalfa.
“The role of government is to err on the side of caution, to ensure from a scientific perspective that all the safeguards are in place,” said Liberal Farm Critic Wayne Easter. “At this point we in the Liberal caucus are not satisfied that those safeguards are in effect.”
The Liberals want the moratorium kept in place until it’s known if it’s possible to prevent GE contamination of non-GE alfalfa, ensure segregation of forage seeds and detection of genetic commingling in alfalfa seeds and hay, and create adequate third-party audit and verification systems.
Registration for GE alfalfa has not yet been sought by Monsanto in Canada and Beddome notes there were 107 national and local farmer and consumer organizations across Canada that were signatories to the No GE Alfalfa campaign. They included the Manitoba Forage Council, the Organic Producers Association of Manitoba, Robertson-Stow Farms Ltd., JUST Community Market Co-operative Ltd., and Keystone Grain Ltd.
Easter likened the opposition to GE alfalfa to the 1994 effort to ban the use of the bovine growth hormone rBGH.
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– LIBERAL FARM CRITIC WAYNE EASTER