GMO-free news from Canada

14.03.2019 |

New cause for concern over weedkiller glyphosate

Study examines how herbicide adds to phosphorus levels in soil and waterways

New research from McGill University reveals an overlooked impact that the widely used herbicide glyphosate may be having on the environment.

First commercialized by Monsanto under the name Roundup, glyphosate has come under scrutiny in the past, mostly in relation to its potential toxicity. This new research, published recently in the Ecological Society of America’s Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, focuses not on direct health risks associated with the herbicide, but on its contribution to environmental phosphorus levels, an issue that has yet to receive much attention.

“No one has thus far investigated the impact of glyphosate use on phosphorus loads in agricultural areas, most likely because pesticides have always been considered a negligible source of nutrients,” says Marie-Pier Hébert, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in the Department of Biology at McGill University.

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“Our study argues that the recent and rapid rise in glyphosate use has magnified its relative importance as a source of anthropogenic phosphorus, especially in areas of intensive corn, soybean and cotton cultivation,” Hébert says.

07.12.2018 |

GMO-free food and drinks launches up 366% in Canada - research

The number of food and drinks products claiming GMO-free status has risen dramatically over the last ten years in the Canadian market.

According to Mintel's Global New Product Database, there was a 366% increase in 'GMO-free' claims on natural food/drink launches in Canada from 2007-17. Products claiming 'no additives/preservatives' grew 21%.

At the same time, Mintel said less specific claims such as 'all natural product' declined 62% in the same time period.

07.12.2018 |

GMO-free food & drinks launches up 366% in Canada

The number of food and drinks products claiming GMO-free status has risen dramatically over the last ten years in the Canadian market.

According to Mintel's Global New Product Database, there was a 366% increase in 'GMO-free' claims on natural food/drink launches in Canada from 2007-17. Products claiming 'no additives/preservatives' grew 21%.

At the same time, Mintel said less specific claims such as 'all natural product' declined 62% in the same time period.

26.11.2018 |

KAP resolution says keep glyphosate-tolerant wheat out

Monsanto shelved Roundup Ready wheat in 2004 but its spectre still haunts some Manitoba farmers.

Delegates attending the Keystone Agriculture Producers’ (KAP) advisory council meeting here Nov. 12 passed a resolution for KAP to lobby the federal government to “disallow the testing, funding, importation and introduction of glyphosate-tolerant wheat in Canada.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) June announcement that a few wheat plants genetically modified (GM) to tolerate glyphosate were discovered in a ditch in Alberta prompted the resolution from KAP’s District 3, Starbuck farmer Doug Livingston explained when moving the resolution.

01.11.2018 |

Planting the Seeds of Indigenous Food Sovereignty |

I want to stress that we have no idea what we are doing.

So says ‘Cúagilákv Jessie Housty, a self-described “community agitator, mother, land-based educator, indigenist, [and] unapologetically Haíłzaqv” woman—who promptly displays all the hallmarks of someone who knows exactly what she is doing.

What Housty is doing, in a remote corner of British Columbia, Canada, is agitating, mothering, educating, and staking the ground of her traditional territory. She is a young Indigenous woman, who, with the help of her friends and family, is feeding the growth of her culture and her community.

Which is another way to say she’s gardening.

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Housty is thrilled that the learnings from K̓vi’aí are translating back to the larger year-round community of Bella Bella (population 1,300). There, she and her team have planted a community garden right beside the dock at the main entrance to the village. Numbered beds help band members identify what’s what as they help themselves to the seasonal spoils. At the same time, she and her team routinely deliver fresh produce to homes of community elders. Village classrooms plant seeds and give the seedlings away to a growing number of families starting their own gardens.

16.10.2018 |

Big Agriculture eyeing genetic tool for pest control

A controversial and unproven gene-editing technology touted as a silver bullet against malaria-bearing mosquitos could wind up being deployed first in commercial agriculture, according to experts and an NGO report published Tuesday.

So-called "gene drives" force evolution's hand, ensuring that an engineered trait is passed down to all or most offspring, and from one generation to the next.

If that trait is being male or female, for example, genetically altered specimens released into the wild could lead to the local extinction of a targeted species within a dozen generations.

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"Gene drive is headed toward agriculture," said Jim Thomas, research director at ETC Group, a Canadian-based NGO that tracks potentially dangerous bio-technologies, and lead author of a report on the technology's inroads into Big Agriculture.

In the United States, at least, it already has a foothold.

23.08.2018 |

How much a life? Monsanto trial exposes risks of Roundup herbicide

As a Saskatchewan resident for many years, I often heard the phrase "Roundup Ready." It was coined as if it were a harmless jingle for soda pop. The ad still rings in my ears.

All farmers know of Roundup, the most effective weed killer. Most urbanites do as well. The way the corporate giant Monsanto has marketed, promoted, and created an artificial need for Roundup is a true story of profiteering and avarice. Now, finally, even some courts are accepting that it likely kills much more than just weeds and that Monsanto has acted to cover up concerns about the safety of Roundup.

A few years ago, Dewayne Johnson, a courageous man and one who is also dying of cancer, launched a lawsuit against Monsanto. In early August, Johnson had his day in court -- and won. He showed that David can still take down Goliath -- something that some of us had begun to wonder about given all the nasty stories of corporate greed, seed manipulation and cover-ups we have come to know.

22.08.2018 |

Too Big to Feed: The Short Report

Mega-mergers and the concentration of power in the agri-food sector

What is corporate concentration, why does it matter for food security, and who are the biggest corporate players in each agrifood sector/"link" in the Industrial Food Chain? This accessible booklet (soon to be available in French and Spanish) answers these questions and more.

The Too Big to Feed: The Short Report was developed by ETC Group, in partnership with IPES-Food. It summarizes the full report Too Big to Feed, published by IPES-Food in October 2017. The full-length report (available here) includes additional data and a more detailed analysis on the impact of the consolidation of the agri-food sector.

04.07.2018 |

Leading African Biodiversity Advocate Denied Canadian Visa Days Before UN Forum

As international debate on gene drive technology heats up, Canadian immigration officials deny a key voice

MONTREAL, July 4, 2018 - United Nations biodiversity negotiations are underway in Montreal, but a key African expert is missing from the fray. Ali Tapsoba, President of the organization Terre à Vie in Burkina Faso, was planning to speak at two events on behalf of Burkinabé civil society who oppose the release of gene drive mosquitoes, a controversial new biotechnology, in their communities.

His visa application was denied without explanation by the Canadian embassy in Dakar on Friday.

“Tapsoba is probably the preeminent voice in Burkina Faso against the Target Malaria Consortium, which is leading the project towards release of Gene Drive mosquitoes in the wild,” said Mariann Bassey of Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Chair of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA).

“I am very disappointed that I have been prevented from attending these important negotiations addressing issues of biotechnology at a time when Africa is plagued by multinationals that want to impose GMOs and destroy the beautiful biodiversity of the continent,” said Tapsoba in a written statement. “Don’t Africans have the right to meet other nationalities from around the world in Canada to discuss the future of humanity?”

Canada’s denial of Tapsoba’s visa comes at a moment when biotech industry backers are spending millions of dollars to promote gene drives, a powerful technology that could be used to render species extinct, or create new kinds of corporate control of agriculture and the environment.

15.06.2018 |

Media Release: GM wheat incident a reminder of need for better regulation, says NFU

SASKATOON, SK: On June 14, 2018, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) released information about an incident in Alberta where a small patch of unapproved genetically modified wheat was discovered. The wheat plants have a glyphosate resistant herbicide tolerance trait that was developed and tested by Monsanto in open-air field plots fifteen to twenty years ago. The nearest test plot site is over 300 kilometers from where the contamination incident was discovered. The exact identity of the wheat is unknown. When field trials were approved the CFIA did not require full genetic characterization of the experimental lines containing the genetic modification. The CFIA does not know, and is unwilling to speculate on how the experimental seed ended up growing on an access road to an oil rig in southern Alberta 14 years after Monsanto withdrew its application for approval of genetically modified wheat.

“We are relieved that this GMO wheat incident was discovered and action was taken quickly to prevent contamination of Canada’s commercial wheat stocks and seed supplies,” said Terry Boehm, chair of the National Farmers Union Seed Committee. “This is a close call, which we hope will not result in lost markets or lower prices for wheat.”

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