Complaints about corporate control of the development of new genetically engineered crop varieties have to be placed in perspective, says Gord Surgeoner, president of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies.
“One of the most important things in agriculture is financing,” he told the Commons agriculture committee as part of a study of biotechnology development in the country. “I have about five banks I can go to in Canada, plus Farm Credit Canada.
“If I talk about fertilizer, PotashCorp of Saskatchewan, Agrium Inc., there are about four fertilizer companies. If I talk about tractors, the last I saw it, there were green, red and blue. If I talk about trucks, GM, Ford, the Japanese – those are all critical areas of agriculture.”
Farmers may not like having a limited number of suppliers and buyers but they’re used to it, he said.
“Look at railways. If I want to ship my wheat I have CP and CN,” he said.
“I really have to emphasize that in almost everything we do in agriculture we have about five or six suppliers, from money to tractors to trucks to rail, in all of those things. You may not like that, but that is the reality.”
Farm groups have been pushing the federal government to restore funding for public agriculture research so it isn’t dominated by corporate interests.