Rebel With a Cause

Today was a Day of Action to stop the introduction of genetically modified alfalfa in Canada.   The rallies were coordinated through the NFU (National Farmers’ Union) and CBAN (Canadian IMG-20130409-00086Biotechnology Action Network), right across the country.  To give you a summary of what it was all about, this is from CBAN’s website:

“Alfalfa is used to help produce many of the foods we eat! Alfalfa (commonly harvested as hay) is a high-protein feed for animals like dairy cows, beef cattle, sheep, poultry and pigs. It‘s also used to build nutrients and organic matter in the soil, making it particularly important for organic farming. Farmers agree that GM alfalfa is not needed or wanted but farmers are never consulted before GM crops are introduced.

IMG-20130409-00087Alfalfa is a perennial plant that is insect pollinated, therefore, if GM alfalfa is commercially released, GM alfalfa will inevitably contaminate non-GM and organic alfalfa. This GM contamination will threaten the livelihoods of family farmers in Ontario and across Canada. The seed industry says they will focus on Eastern Canada but if GM alfalfa is released, it will only be a matter of time before alfalfa across Canada is contaminated, and sensitive export and organic markets are lost.”

As you can see, there is a lot at stake here.  The industry attempted to introduce this alfalfa out west earlier, but farmers and consumers protested so effectively, that they shut it down.  They are now trying to try it out on Eastern Canada, thinking there will be less opposition here.  Unfortunately, if GM alfalfa is approved and used here in Ontario, it will quickly spread across the country, essentially wiping out organic dairy farming, and doing so much more damage to our soil and pollinators.  What’s more, it is completely unnecessary!  The trait they are introducing is  resistance to the chemical RoundUp.  We have yet to talk to a single farmer who thinks we need this, since alfalfa is a perennial crop that is grown for 3 or 4 years, then worked into the soil.  Weeds just are not an issue to warrant spraying with this herbicide.

This is why Ralph and I both felt strongly about taking a couple of hours out of our busy farm day to lend our voices to the protest in our local town of Orangeville.  Although our group of 30 people was not as big as some communities had (250 in Guelph, 100 in Owen Sound, hundreds in Toronto, I’m sure), we had lots of interest from passersby.  We were situated outside our federal MP’s office on the main drag of town.  We heard lots of car horns and cheers, and saw many waves of support.  The local police even stopped traffic as we marched across the street!  A young officer spoke with us afterwards and said even he learned lots about the issue.



A Facebook friend of mine was teasing me about being such a rebel.  As I told her, I feel that as citizens, we are either part of the problem, or part of the solution.  As informed farmers, Ralph and I have a responsibility to share our experiences and information with others.  Understandably, most of us are so preoccupied with holding down our jobs, paying the bills, helping our kids, etc, that we don’t have alot of time to investigate things like GMO’s.  Some things do have to take priority, however, and if it has to do with my livelihood (farming) and my health, I am going to find the time to learn what I need to know. There is lots of great information on the CBAN website.  If you still haven’t seen “Genetic Roulette“, it’s also a great place to start learning about GMO’s.

I suggest everyone evaluate their own priorities.  We must take some responsibility to find out what is going on.  We cannot on our government to ensure our safety.  It was our complacency for the past decade that has gotten us to where we are now.  Time to take a stand…



2 responses to this post.

  1. Ralph, it was a pleasure listening to you trying to bring the young news reporter up to speed on the GMO issues. I did get a FB friend request from your wife but when I responded FB gave me an error msg. Certainly, keep me informed about both of you activism projects.
    My URL has links to some of my blog sites and to my channels on YouTube, FB and Twitter.
    Please – do email me some of the photos so that I can post. Hugs to you both, Ish.


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