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Letters – for May. 5, 2011

Accommodating different views on technology

I read with great interest and then dismay the article in the April 21Manitoba Co-operator titled “KAP opposes Roundup Ready alfalfa’s release in Canada.”

There are two things of note in regards to this article. The first is the quote made by Paul Gregory in regards to the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) where, in particular, he believes that the CSTA is controlled by one company, with that company being Monsanto.

As the vice-president of a non-multinational and seed-focused corn and soybean seed company, as a cash crop producer managing a family farm, and as second vice-president of the Canadian Seed Trade Association I take exception to his comments.

In particular, I find it hard to believe his comments that Monsanto controls the CSTA. At the current time the company is not even represented on our board of directors.

In the article there are several accusations towards the seed industry as a whole with little effort made to discuss or present differing views that may have also been represented at the meeting covered.

As we move forward there is a need to respect the needs of all producers who either desire or do not desire the benefits of technologies being introduced to the marketplace. We need to manage access to these tools accordingly.

Our company has received calls both east and west from producers wanting to know when Roundup Ready alfalfa will be available as they want the benefits of this technology on their farms.

In the effort and zest to protect a market (being Europe) that represents (depending on the recent year) from three per cent to 10 per cent of our country’s alfalfa exports sales, we should not forget the demands of forage producers in this country and the demand created by our export market to the south which represents the vast majority of export sales.

Stephen Denys Chatham, Ont.

CSTA members all have a vote

It was with shock and disappointment that I read quotes from Paul Gregory of Interlake Forage Seeds in the April 21 article “KAP opposes Roundup Ready alfalfa’s release in Canada.”

As the 2010-11 president of the Canadian Seed Trade Association, I believe that I owe it to CSTA’s member companies to respond to Gregory’s comments on CSTA’s membership and decision-making processes.

Gregory stated that he has resigned from the CSTA because life science companies have too much power. He is quoted as saying: “When I go to the (CSTA) meetings now they are controlled by Monsanto, plain and simple. That’s reality. I feel as an independent seedsman I have no power and no voice because of the life-science companies.”

The reality is that CSTA has 130 company members, of which 101 are active (voting) members. While five of our voting members are “life-science” companies, 96 active member companies are not.

In fact, more than 50 of CSTA’s active member companies could be classed as “independent seedsmen” or smaller companies traditionally operating in the forage and turf seed sector.

Every single active member is eligible for one vote on CSTA policy and strategy development. The “one member-one vote” direction is entrenched in CSTA’s bylaws; its operational guidelines; and its core operating values.

In addition to the ability to cast one vote, all active members are eligible to serve in leadership positions on CSTA’s policy committees and are eligible to seek election to the board of directors. CSTA’s membership recently amended its bylaws to allow the size of the board of directors to be adjusted should that be necessary to ensure that the membership is balanced by region, crop kind, and membership class. In addition, CSTA’s operational guidelines require that the association always strives for consensus in its decision-making.

CSTA is very proud of its system of “extreme democracy.” Wayne Unger

President Canadian Seed Trade Association

I encourage farmers to withdraw their checkoff money from the Canola Growers until such time as they abandon this wrongheaded initiative. We should also demand that the Canola Growers amend its cumbersome refund policy. In my opinion, we should be able to ask for all of our money back at any time and have the option to make this a standing order, rather than have to apply for our money every six months. True accountability will only come if farmers are free to withdraw their money at any time, or better yet, not have it automatically deducted in the first place.

I encourage all farmers to send a strong message to the Canola Growers, by asking for their money back, and to redirect their checkoff dollars to other organizations that better reflect their interests.

Carl Classen Elm Creek, Man.

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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