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European boycott counterproductive

KAP’s call for a boycott of European goods in response the EU’s zero tolerance of GM contamination in flax in the (April 15 Manitoba Co-operator) is an ill-considered response to a ban which we have long known about, and which is our problem and not theirs. In calling for a boycott, we deny Europe’s right to set its own standards for food safety, and close the door to dialogue, which does nothing to advance sales of flax. It is an ignoble form of grandstanding, and needs to be reconsidered.

Wayne James Beausejour, Man. Co-operator (“Animal welfare activists target pig castration,” page 52). As one paragraph states, these animal welfare people stir things up about issues they neither understand, nor have any background on.

Before they go any further on the issue of getting castration of boars stopped, they had better cook, fry, roast or barbecue the meat from an intact male pig. The smell is absolutely rank and the taste (if they still have the stomach to taste it) isn’t any better. Sonja Filipowich

Norquay, Sask.

I share many of the concerns and frustrations raised by my friend Ed Rempel, but cannot agree with the concept of a boycott.

The Canadian flax industry has many friends in the EU27 that have been actively working toward an agreement to normalize trade in Canadian flax. These include domestic governments, trade associations, and individual business.

The Government of Canada has also been actively involved, and continues to work hard for a resolution. This is an issue that concerns compliance of law within the EU27 and cultural differences between our societies.

At the end of the day, they are our customers and we need to provide them with a product they want to buy. That said, protocols and tolerance levels need to be created to operate in our present situation where testing extends to parts per million.

Canadian farmers have been impacted by this issue with reduced prices and smaller export markets. Hopefully, we shall see development of a new protocol within Europe that will allow a more normal trade in flax to resume.

In the meantime, we need to test all seed that will be planted in 2010 to do our part to eliminate any Triffid from our system. We also should recognize that this is not a ploy for European importers to obtain flax more cheaply or to encourage domestic flax production. Much of the European processing industry is actually relatively small family-owned operations. These companies have suffered staggering losses and need a resolution at least as badly as we do.

There are good faith negotiations taking place at this time. Let’s encourage our industry and government to continue them. The Manitoba Flax Growers Association through the Flax Council of Canada is supporting this course of action. We believe that this constructive approach will have more success than being confrontational. Escalating the rhetoric is likely to only antagonize groups that are stridently anti-GMO and provide them with another venue to influence public opinion. Eric Fridfinnson

Chairman Manitoba Flax Growers Association

Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or email: [email protected](subject: To the editor)

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