After seeing the powerful documentary The World According to Monsanto, we come to the conclusion that our foes are powerful indeed. They will tell outright lies to get people to believe that their products are good for us. This movie is a powerful indictment of one of the world’s largest transnational corporations. A company that asks us to trust it to safeguard our food supply, and the same company that brought us Agent Orange, PCBs, dioxins, rbGH bovine growth hormone and Round-up Ready fertilizer.
And if you are hopeful that the Obama administration will bring change to agriculture, his new agriculture secretary has a record of aiding and abetting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs, also known as factory farms). He also supports GE foods and unsustainable industrial ethanol production, which has already caused global corn and grain prices to skyrocket, literally taking food off the table for a billion people in the developing world. This appointment is being seen as "agribusiness as usual”.
Our food supply is in jeopardy. We in the richer countries have collectively allowed ourselves to take food for granted. Some of us eat rubbish, call it food and expect that our bodies will continue to work for us. And there are those who are health-conscious, who know about avoiding toxic food that has been genetically engineered, laced with antibiotics, chemicals and synthetic hormones. But we know that avoidance is not empowering. As food activists, we must do MORE than buying or growing organic food. There are battles being waged on the Canadian prairies right now by farmers who are saying NO to genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets, wheat and alfalfa.
In 2008, Monsanto put GE sugar beets on the market in Canada, promoting them as an ethanol feedstock. But in Prince Edward Island, widespread opposition shut down a proposed biofuels plant fuelled by GE sugar beets and now the same company is trying to launch it in Nova Scotia or Ontario instead. Alfalfa is a critical element in crop rotations on prairie grain farms. It is a soil conditioner, a weed management tool and a biological source of nitrogen for soil fertility. Alfalfa is also an important hay crop, and organic alfalfa is in high demand by the increasing number of organic livestock farms. Some organic farmers routinely use organic alfalfa as a rotational crop, as an alternative to fertilizing and for its ability to out-compete weeds.
There is now a push by Monsanto and Forage Genetics International towards a commercial introduction of genetically engineered alfalfa by 2012. The impact of GE alfalfa on organic farming would be devastating. It poses serious risks to GE-free and organic farmers, due to the risk of contamination. Farmers risk losing their GE- free and organic certification and consequently their export markets. And we lose the opportunity to purchase and consume truly organic food. Organic farmers are not only doing the hard physical work in the fields to feed us, they are also fighting the biotech giants in COURT.
So what can we do? What is an appropriate way to fight the tyranny of Monsanto and others who want to control the world’s food supply? As of now, there are alliances of organizations in the three Prairie Provinces who are opposed to the commercialization of GE alfalfa, wheat and sugar beets in Canada. These groups, OAPF (Organic Agriculture Protection Fund) and SOD (Saskatchewan Organic Directorate), are fundraising to support this work.
They need our support. Inform yourself about their activities, and support them by donating to their court costs. Tell friends and organizations to recognize the importance of this Canadian branch of a truly global campaign to say NO to GE food. Fill out the form to donate from your bank account at:
– Even a monthly donation of $5, multiplied by many, can make a difference. We’re all in this together.
Tsiporah is a Gabriolan of 35 years and keen observer of our times and evolutionary potential as compassionate human beings.