Letters to the editor – March 14, 2019

Support public money for seed development

The seed industry has had some measured success in convincing farmers that the varietal development system we have is broken and that the only way to fix it is to subsidize private investment.  This is nonsense.

There is no doubt western farmers and Canada in general will benefit from increased investment in plant breeding.  Varietal research in wheat is said to return 20:1, and will continue to do so even if we double the input.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that we need to hand our money over to Bayer or Syngenta to achieve that goal.

Any research done, any infrastructure built or rented, will be charged to farmers through contracts, end point royalties or a seed tax at whatever rate the market will bear.  Corporate profits will be huge.

Remember, no matter what system may be adopted, the farmer pays every penny. There is no other source.  There is no magic in private investment. Money does not become wiser or more efficient if large streams of it are funnelled off to the shareholders of multinational corporations.  In truth, all that does is drop our return on investment from 20:1 to —5:1?  2:1?

One may wonder which is worse, the loss of profit to faraway shareholders or the loss of farmer control of research to corporations looking to contractually or agronomically bind you to their varieties and herbicide regimes.

Oppose vigorously both end point royalties and the seed tax and push for more support for public breeding.  It’s our money. Make it work best for us.

Glenn Tait
Meota, Sask.

Demand for product indicates social licence

Re: “social license.”

Social license cannot be defined as anything other than society’s approbation of whatever product or service is in question. Therefore, the demand for that product or service is a direct and quantifiable measurement of the social license already granted by society as a whole.

When politicians or industry leaders express that there is a “need” to obtain social license they have capitulated the social license already granted by the quiet majority to a vocal minority whose stated goals are to destroy the industries in question.

Why is there no discussion in the media correlating demand with social license, when the demand for a product or service is the only measurable way to determine the extent of the social license already in place?

In the case of the beef, fossil fuels and related industries, the majority of Canadians have granted measurable and extensive social license already. Conceding the social license already granted by the majority to the vocal opponents of those industries is a inexcusable capitulation of our democracy, the rule of law and the sovereignty we have over our own businesses, and allows the opponents of social license being granted to overrule the needs and desires of those who have already granted it.

Maintaining that social license is a different discussion, but the agriculture and fossil fuel industries already have social license. 

To save these industries, we cannot concede what is already won.

Travis Hatch
Sunset House, Alta.

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