Jordan explained that the company is only concerned with "assuring that western Canadian farmers have unrestricted access to innovative new technologies that will allow them to remain competitive. That environment is, to put it mildly, overwhelmingly opposed to GM wheat.
Our customers are telling us they don't want to buy GM wheat the market is telling us they don't want it, and we certainly haven't seen evidence that people want it. The crop in question, western red spring wheat, is typically used to make flour, bread, cereals and crackers. As it has already done with other crops such as corn and canola, Monsanto has genetically engineered their wheat to be able to withstand application of their powerful Roundup herbicide, or glyphosate, hence the name "Roundup Ready" wheat.
During the NFU tour over the next few weeks, Farmers' Union President David Wells will be reminding farmers they can send a message just by choosing another brand of glyphosate. While acknowledging there are some valid concerns, Monsanto's Jordan says organic and conventional farmers can happily coexist side by side. Not so, says the NFU's Qualman. He argues that GM crops won't stay "down on the farm," either in the fields or when being shipped.
Well it did. Organic Farmers filed a class action suit filed last fall arguing that the introduction of GM wheat would eventually lead to widespread contamination of their fields, and loss of market share. Such concerns have precedent.
The World Needs Genetically Modified Foods
Genetic contamination of organic canola crops by Monsanto's Roundup Ready Canola and Aventis's Liberty Link genetically modified canola was widespread, in spite of vigorous containment efforts, according to a study released last year by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Wheat generates some 30 billion seeds per acre, which can then be distributed by wind, insects, water, equipment, and a number of other methods. Seeds may lie dormant for years before germinating. Monsanto spokesperson Jordan agrees, up to a point.
As a company, we recognize there's a lot of work to be done in some of these areas.
- e-book Growing Resistance: Canadian Farmers and the Politics of Genetically Modified Wheat?
- Growing Resistance – University of Manitoba Press.
- The mysterious case of Alberta's rogue GMO wheat: Could it happen again??
- Greatest Hits;
- Growing Resistance: Canadian Farmers and the Politics of Genetically Modified Wheat by Emily Eaton.
- Wamby, the Jungle Boy, and the Blockade (Wambi, the Jungle Boy Book 9)?
To split apart a massive, centralized systems with thousands of input points, like the Canadian grain system, would carry enormous costs. If crop segregation were to fail, it could have devastating consequences. It could close off access to markets in Europe, where opposition to GM crops has been vigorous. The head of England's largest flourmill, Rank Hovis, was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying "if you do grow genetically modified wheat, we will not be able to buy any of your wheat-neither the GM nor the conventional.
This has nothing to do with principle, or with trade barriers. We just cannot sell it.
Emily Eaton, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Regina, provides a detailed account of the successful resistance to the introduction of GM wheat on the Canadian prairies in the early s, and offers a valuable reminder that issues of farm sovereignty and food security are still present in the Canadian context. Prior to the controversy over GM wheat, the Canadian agricultural climate was already grappling with frameworks for simultaneously regulating and promoting GM crops such as corn and canola. Starting in July , a coalition of nine organizations representing a broad range of concerns farmers, consumers, environmentalists, public health advocates, etc.
The coalition held news conferences, produced policy documents, gathered testimonies and contributed to a working group convened by the Canadian Wheat Board.
They expressed concern about the environmental risks of growing GM wheat and the lack of transparency in government practices related to it, and argued that introducing the crop would diminish market opportunities for others. Because Growing Resistance focuses on these perspectives, resistance to neoliberalism and corporate control are key themes of the book.
Eaton explores how these ideas were in conflict with the market-based solutions advocated for by GM wheat proponents such as Monsanto, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Canola Council of Canada and Croplife Canada, who defended the impartiality of allowing consumers to choose whether or not to purchase GM wheat. Some readers may also question the applicability of anti-GM struggles from the early s to the current era.
Eaton anticipates this concern and offers a warning regarding recent developments in Canada, Australia and the US that hint at a potential resurgence of GM wheat through a synchronized commercialization of the crop. Nine industry organizations three from each country released a statement in regarding their commitment to the ongoing development of GM wheat.
The three countries could simultaneously adopt a GM wheat variety in hopes of pressuring importers to accept it, which would make access to GM-free wheat imports difficult.
Growing Resistance: Canadian Farmers and the Politics of Genetically Modified Wheat
Canada may be particularly vulnerable to these renewed efforts due to the recent dissolution of the Canadian Wheat Board. An integral player in the coalition, the board pushed for a cost-benefit analysis of GM wheat. Future struggles can learn from the way in which organizations with differing and even opposing points of view can work together and find common ground to protect a shared interest.
This review originally appeared in Night, issue Subscribe now to get more reviews in your mailbox!
How GM crops can help us to feed a fast-growing world
His areas of interest include Canadian agriculture, genetically modified foods, food policy and green criminology. There are a lot of books and movies out there. Let us point you to the cream of the crop.