The fight to defend organic in Canada is still ongoing against the proposed changes to the guidance documents of the Seed and Feed Acts. The proposed changes would remove the mandatory health and safety assessments for most genetically engineered seeds and feeds introduced to Canada. Attached is a Fact Sheet to help familiarize yourself with the issue and risks to the organic and non-GMO sector. You may also watch a webinar that was held on September 14 at the Canadian Health Food Association conference to alert the industry to the gravity of this issue. There was also a globe and Mail article published on the topic, linked here.
Canada Organic Trade Association has been advocating on your behalf and rallying the industry since last May when Health Canada first consulted on their proposed changes to genetic engineering in Canada. Canada Organic Trade Association has issued written submissions to Health Canada, the CFIA and Agriculture and Agrifood Canada and had six meetings with government officials highlighting the damage to the industry that will occur should they move ahead with the guidance in its current form.
We are appealing to the industry to help us offset the costs (legal, government relations strategists) that we have taken on in order to make this issue go away. Any donation even as small as $10 helps defend organic as we continue to fight this issue. Thank you to Barentz that has come forward an our inaugural donor to the Defend Organic Fund. All donors will be acknowledged (or kept confidential if that is desired).
On Monday, September 19, Radio-Canada reported that the CFIA has circulated a summary of an important regulatory proposal via a document that originated with CropLife Canada, the biotechnology/agro-chemical/seed industry lobby group. (See OGM : Ottawa présente sa réforme en utilisant les fichiers d’un lobby agrochimique). This provides alarming evidence of inappropriate collaboration between our public regulator and the private corporations whose products it regulates. The document sets out CFIA proposals for how regulations governing many gene-edited seeds are to be interpreted, and puts forward a system that would benefit the multinational seed corporations by allowing them to release many new gene-edited seed varieties without independent government safety assessments or other government oversight, and without disclosing they are gene-edited to government or the public, including farmers.
Following this alarming news being revealed, Minister Bibeau, the Minister of Agriculture, issued a response statement to the media."The organic sector will be reassured," said the Minister responsible for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Marie-Claude Bibeau, in an interview on the Midi Info program. She announced high-level directive to guarantee the traceability of these new GMO seeds.
The discussions between COTA and other organic stakeholders with Agriculture Canada continued this week as the Agriculture and Agri-Food department has now been tasked with finding a solution that will not destroy the organic sector.
Our position is clear - we want a transparent, mandatory process to be maintained by the Government of Canada that will allow farmers and consumers to know what is genetically engineered in Canada's food, feed and seed sectors. We are awaiting Agriculture Canada and the CFIA to come back to us with a proposed solution and path forward.
Thank you to all who continue to spread the word, share materials, and donated to the cause! If you have not yet signed the petition, you can do so here and contact your local MP.