Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

NFU Calls for Immediate Action to Stop GM alfalfa seed sales in Canada

Media Release

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2015-10-15_NFU.png(Canada, March 24, 2016) - The National Farmers Union (NFU) has written to Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay asking him to take immediate action to stop Monsanto licensee, Forage Genetics International, (FGI) from selling genetically modified (GM) alfalfa seed in Canada this spring. The NFU also asked the Minister to put border controls in place to prevent importation of contaminated conventional alfalfa seed from the USA.

“The NFU has seen a letter from FGI which says the company may start selling genetically modified alfalfa seed in Eastern Canada for spring planting,” said Jan Slomp, NFU President. “This would be a disaster for farmers because, once it has been planted, there would be no way to stop the GM trait from spreading to organic and conventional farms and crops. There are many domestic and export markets that completely reject alfalfa seeds, hay or pellets with any GM content. Clearly, the Minister needs to take action to protect the interests of Canadian farmers before it is too late.”

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UAWC distributes 88,000 thyme and Sagebrush seedlings and 15,000 meters of irrigation networks in the Gaza strip

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-03-07-seeds_thyme.jpg(Gaza strip, March 2016)- the Union of Agricultural Work Committees distributed 88,000 thyme and Sagebrush seedlings, and 15,000 meters of irrigation networks in order to replace and rehabilitate irrigation systems that were destroyed by the 2014 war on Gaza strip.

 "The Economic Recovery in the Gaza Strip" (Phase II), project targeted 25 farmers by the cultivation of 3,500 seedlings per dunom. On the other hand, the UAWC distributed 15,000 meters of irrigation networks to replace and rehabilitate the irrigation system that was destroyed by the 2014 war and to strengthen the steadfastness of Palestinian farmers on their lands.

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UAWC distributes 100 tons of drought tolerant seeds

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_20106-03-07-seeds-uawc.jpg(Ramallah,  March 6, 2016) the Union of Agricultural Work Committees distributed 100 tons of drought tolerant seeds for 11 villages and Bedouins communities in the governorates of Bethlehem and East Jerusalem, as part of the project "Emergency assistance to small scale farmers in the West Bank", which is funded by the United Nations / Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs," OCHA"

UAWC's project coordinator, Omar Titi, pointed out that the project targeted eight rural communities in the governorate of Bethlehem, and three Bedouin communities in East Jerusalem, who depends on sheep breeding as the only source of incomes, noting that the distribution of feed seeds aimed at cultivating pastoral land in areas classified as "c" with feed crops. Thus, reducing production costs, and strengthening the Palestinian farmers' steadfastness on their lands especially in the face of settlers' daily attacks.

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The surreptitious arrival of the new “Living Modified Organisms” at the FAO

Press Release – LA VIA CAMPESINA and MAELA (the Agroecological Movement of Latin America and the Caribbean)

(Rome, Monday, February 17th, 2016) Industry has chosen to use the FAO as a smoke screen behind which to conceal its new Living Modified Organisms. Participants in the FAO’s International Symposium on “The Role of Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition”, which took place in Rome from February 15th to 17th, listened to nearly 80 speakers coming from industry, from research centres, and from some government delegations. There was only one invited representative from civil society among the panelists.  

The new propaganda line supported by a handful of governments is startlingly simple: biotechnology cannot be reduced to Living Modified Organisms; peasant knowledge is also part of biotechnology. Therefore, the new Living Modified Organisms are like peasant knowledge, and thus they are not living modified organisms.

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Guy Kastler: FAO should support seed selection by peasants and small scale farmers


b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-02-16-Guy_FAO.jpgLa Via Campesina, Guy Kastler   

It was to be expected that, in order to discuss the subject of biotechnology, the FAO would call upon those who are using biotechnology in research and in industry. However, what was definitely not to be expected was for the FAO, in conducting its discussions on public policy and food policy, to turn almost exclusively to these same actors, while at the same time a very large number of peasant, small-scale farmer, and civil society organisations that are opposed to the uncontrolled development of biotechnology have not been invited to speak – or only in a very marginal way through the invitation that was sent to me. The organisations in question have released a public statement that I am asking you to take into consideration.

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NFU meets with Agriculture Minister MacAulay and other stakeholders in Saskatoon

Media Release

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2015-10-15_NFU.png(February 8, 2016 –Saskatoon) – The National Farmers Union (NFU) was one of several crop-related farm groups who met with federal Agriculture Minister MacAulay at a round-table meeting in Saskatoon today. The Minister’s consultation with stakeholders followed his announcement that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has renewed its agreement with the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) for continued cooperation on plant breeding research carried out by AAFC scientists, which will be funded by over $21 million raised through the WGRF’s wheat and barley check-offs.

“The National Farmers Union was pleased to share with the Minister our views on a number of timely matters,” said Glenn Tait, NFU 2nd Vice President. “We noted that public plant breeding has suffered reduced funding and diminished capacity under the previous government, so we are encouraged to see the Minister’s renewed commitment to variety development in wheat and barley by AAFC plant breeders, as stated in today’s announcement.”

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Corporate vision of the future of food promoted at the UN

Press release – La Via Campesina, ETC and Grain



 More than 100 civil society organizations raise alarm about FAO biotechnology meeting

(Rome, Monday 15 February, 2016) Just when the biotech companies that make transgenic seeds are merging, the corporate vision of biotechnology is showing up at FAO. At today’s opening of the three-day International symposium on agricultural biotechnologies convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, more than 100 civil society and social movement and organizations (CSOs) from four continents have issued a statement denouncing both the substance and structure of the meeting, which appears to be another attempt by multinational agribusiness to redirect the policies of the UN agency toward support for Genetically-engineered crops and livestock. 

The global peasant and family farm movement, La Via Campesina, invited CSOs to sign the letter when the symposium’s agenda became public.  Two of the FAO keynote speakers are known proponents of GMOs, and the agenda and side events over the three days include speakers from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (a biotech trade group in the USA), Crop Life International (the global agrochemical trade association), DuPont (one of the world’s largest biotech seed companies) and CEVA (a major veterinary medicine corporation), among others. FAO has only invited one speaker or panellist openly critical of GMOs.  Worse, one of the two speakers at the opening session is a former assistant director general of FAO who has pushed for so-called Terminator seeds (GMO seeds programmed to die at harvest time forcing farmers to purchase new seeds every growing season), in opposition to FAO’s own public statements. The second keynoter’s speech is titled, "Toward Ending the Misplaced Global Debate on Biotechnology" – suggesting that the FAO symposium should be the moment for shutting down biotech criticism.

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