Alta. farmers should lobby to keep GM alfalfa out: forage group president

LEDUC, Alta. — Alberta farmers need to lobby their local politicians to keep genetically modified alfalfa out of Alberta, said the president of Forage Seed Canada.

Heather Kerschbaumer isn’t against genetically modified crops, but said the detection of any GM alfalfa in export hay or seed sales could cost Canada billions in lost sales.

“Our main concern is the potential loss of export markets. It is not about the technology it is about the economics of losing the markets. Alberta is an export market,” Kerschbaumer told the Alberta Forage Industry Network.

The U.S. has lost export markets because many countries have low tolerance limits for GM material found in alfalfa shipments. China has a zero tolerance policy and other international markets accept 0.1 percent GM in imported product.

The trouble with establishing a tolerance level is the only important tolerance level is the customer’s tolerance level, she said.

“Non detection is not clean enough for us. We need zero contamination.”

A resolution at the upcoming Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties convention will ask local councillors to reject requests to allow the GM alfalfa into Alberta.

GM alfalfa is grown in the U.S. and has been approved for growth in Eastern Canada, but Alberta seed growers worry its spread will be difficult to contain.

The discovery of the Roundup Ready forage in one Saskatchewan and one Alberta field within the past few years is an indication of how difficult it can be to contain.

“As far as anyone knows it shouldn’t be in the province already.”

Forage Genetics International, which has the rights to sell Roundup Ready alfalfa in Canada, seeded 11 test plots in Quebec and Ontario in 2014 and hoped to expand its plots in 2015.

The Peace Region Forage Seed Association has approached Forage Genetics to declare the Peace Region a GE alfalfa free zone and included in any Technical Use Agreement with any seed sales.

Contact mary.macarthur@producer.com

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Comments

  • Denise

    I can’t believe Eastern Canada is EVEN considering opening the gates to allow GE alfalfa into Canada. I thought they (we) were smarter than that. This crap is very bad for cattle in so many ways. Once it’s here,there’s no getting rid of it!
    Forage Genetics International will be rubbing their hands together in glee knowing this will be a permanent cash cow at the expense of real cows’health and their owners’income.

  • Economic Suicide

    It’s too late, GM alfalfa is already in Alberta. Sanctions on Russia ground Alberta Oil production to a halt. Sent China for Russia’s Oil. Now Russia has become GMO free. Do the math.

  • Norm

    Current knowledge is that GM alfalfa is not present in Alberta, and the whole point of the article and debate is that we do not want to see it grown until the markets signal that it is acceptable. Russia is not GMO free, they currently do not have any GE crops approved to be grown but they recently adopted an approval procedure which will likely see them move in that direction. They are currently importing a number of GM products for food and feed – so no, they are not GMO free. Regarding the statements that GE alfalfa is “bad for cattle” and would be fed “at the expense of real cows’ health”. I’m curious as to where that information comes from? It’s registered to be grown in Canada which means it has been evaluated and approved by one of the most stringent approving bodies in the world. The fact it is not being grown yet is political, not safety based. Forage Genetics has voluntarily not sold the seed to producers even though they legally could. They are wisely waiting until the marketplace accepts it, kudos to them.

    • Economic Suicide

      Try other sources than Western Producer that makes their money from chemical ads.
      “Russia will not import GMO products – PM Medvedev” 2014/04/06 plus many other sources.
      Alberta Farmer Exclusive: GM alfalfa may already be in Alberta….
      Was planted over four years ago by one guy who admitted it, though mistakenly. How many others received seed the same way he did and do not even know about it???

    • Harold

      “It has been evaluated and approved by one of the most stringent approving bodies in the world” “Not being grown yet is political, not safety based”. Vastly bold and indefensible statements, coming from you. Lets try on the other “tee shirt” shall we. “waiting until the marketplace accepts it”. Is there other for a manufacturer? (communism aside) Sorry, the shirts may fit you, but I’m struggling. Lastly, if you have to question “where that information comes from” then you have not been involved in any meaningful dialogue, and perhaps you should find out. simply put, facing one who believes that they are Santa Clause, requires knowing where they are getting it from (dialogue) to prove otherwise. …

    • Denise

      … It would be a tragedy to let GM alfalfa loose in Canada. We don’t need it ,don’t want it, and many other countries,who are our important customers because of our unadulterated alfalfa,don’t want it ,either.
      I hope it is not too late to prevent its spread.
      Here is an article to get you started but be sure you read the comments which follow the article. They are very telling and by people who know why it is not necessary to go down this dead end road.
      articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/09/24/gmo-alfalfa.aspx

  • Denise
  • Attention all anti-GMO organic activists:

    There is no such thing as contamination of an organic crop by GMOs.

    Organic alfalfa growers have nothing, absolutely nothing, to fear from GMO alfalfa

    • Harold

      … Some of us are empowered to walk away from the table, whereas I assume you cannot. Your stand is totally expected. “Attention” paid.

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