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Attn: All those in Ottawa....

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If I was closer, I would so go!

Public Notice: Call to attend the Agriculture Committee meeting Thursday March 10, 11:30-1:00, 151 Sparks Street, Ottawa

Come on out! Show your support for the motion for a moratorium on GM alfalfa!

WHAT: Tomorrow, Thursday March 10, 11:00 - 1:00 the House of Commons Agriculture Committee is meeting and will, unless the Conservatives stall or the Liberals do not push the motion to the top of the agenda, debate and decide on a motion for a moratorium on GM alfalfa. The motion will then go to the House of Commons for a vote.

WHY: A large audience of interested observers at the meeting will help push the moratorium through! It is a small room and an audience will help pressure the Liberals and Conservatives. There is rarely a significant audience at the meetings and so it will be remarked on and show strong public support. Your presence at the Committee hearings will make a lasting impression to these MPs of the public support behind the moratorium. If the motion is passed, this impression will help Conservatives and Liberals to support the motion in the House of Commons.

TIMING:

11:00 - 11:30 The first half hour of the meeting is closed to observers.

11:30 - 1:00 the meeting will open to the public and the motions will be debated.

This schedule inside the two hour period could change slightly.

The meeting notice is here

LOCATION: 151 Sparks Street, Room 268 (up the stairs), Ottawa.

PLEASE NOTE:

* Bring photo ID.

* Arrive 15 minutes ahead of time so you can go through security and get a pass.

* Please remember that observers to Committee hearings, just as to Question Period, cannot participate in the meeting and are asked to refrain from making loud comments etc. However, a nice round of applause after a good decision is not unprecedented and can be most welcome to Committee members who rarely get this feedback.

* A lunch will be brought in for the MPs to allow the Committee to meet over the lunch period, please note that food and beverages are for the MPs and we are asked to refrain from munching (even though its lunchtime!). Bring a snack if you will get peckish!

* There is a small waiting area outside the Committee room where we can wait for the closed part of the meeting to finish.

* There are translation devices so that you can listen in English or French. Unplug these to unwind the cords. If the Bloc members speak and you do not speak French you will appreciate easy access to your device - Channel 1 should be English.

* CBAN Coordinator, Lucy Sharratt, will be attending and will arrive for 11:00.

Come on out to show your support, make change happen, and witness the results of your actions! Your presence could make a big difference.

Please contact me if you have questions. Best, regards, Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator

Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN)

Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice

431 Gilmour Street, Second Floor

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 0R5

Phone: 613 241 2267 ext. 25

Fax: 613 241 2506

coordinator@cban.ca

www.cban.ca

Support the Moratorium on GM Alfalfa! Take action by March 10, 2011 at http://www.cban.ca/alfalfa

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that link doesn't explain anything except that the crop in question is the round-up ready herbicide resistant canola. I'm no fan of Monsanto but this has nothing to do with conserving our national genetic patrimony and everything to do with concerns over a multi-national corporation's motivations and honesty.

Don't paint all biotechnologies with the same brush, many have the potential to greatly improve food production and access around the world. If you have an issue with who produces biotechnology, take that up with your govt (who incidentally sent their best agricultural scientists over to Monsanto etc. in the 90s during the govt down-sizing in the name of neoliberal streamlining efficiency).

Btw, we don't even call the GMOs under Canadian regulation, they are known as plants with novel traits, because we regulate the product and not the process. There are many ways to modify the genetics of an organism, the easiest being artificial selection... thus bringing the date of origin of genetic modification technologies back to around 10,000 years ago.

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background on GE alfalfa.

Basically all livestock eat alfalfa. Alfalfa is pollinated by insects, which means that the GE trait WILL migrate from fields where it is planted. Think Percy Schmeiser. Think the end of organic food. The current Canada Organic and USDA NOP Organic standards do not allow any GE inputs in the organic system. IF GE alfalfa spreads as it is predicted to, this will seriously change the organic system.

The canadian flax saeed industry was just about crippled by GE flax, shutting us out of selling to Europe (who do not allow GE). The decision to allow GE alfalfa out in to the world creates way more problems than it solves. Alfalfa is usually grown as part of a hay mix where weed pressure is not a big problem to start with...this is largely a corporation attempting to get more copyrighted gene material in the hands of farmers.

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Conservatives Block Vote on Moratorium on GM Alfalfa. Write your MP today! http://www.cban.ca/alfalfaction

UPDATE MARCH 10, 2011

Conservative Members of Parliament purposefully delayed a vote on the motion for a moratorium on GM alfalfa at today's Agriculture Committee meeting! A full hour was spent discussing the motion for a moratorium without a vote ever being called. First, Conservatives protested putting the motion ahead of others but the Chair, Conservative Larry Miller, allowed the GM alfalfa motion to be debated. Then the Conservatives delayed with their comments until the meeting time ran out. The Liberals, NDP and Bloc members all support the moratorium so if the vote had happened today, the motion would have been approved and the motion would have passed to the House of Commons for a vote! The motion will be debated at the next Committee meeting which could be March 22. 16 members of the public, including farmers, attended the Committee meeting on March 10 to witness Conservative delay tactics first hand.

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Ok timouse, that could be a good point if we assume that the new gene products are different from those in non-gmo plants (otherwise they call the two 'substantially equivalent'). That is not known and I agree that the regulatory mechanisms are wholly inadequate to address long-term effects of chronic levels of exposure.

Glyphosate inhibits amino acid synthesis in plants and it's resistance in these gmos is presumably some kind of receptor desensitization. There is no a priori reason to suspect nefarious health effects. However, I also prefer to err on the side of caution.

The contamination hypothesis is not very robust either, in that agricultural crops have little potential of becoming 'super-weeds' because they have no advantage outside or the agrifield in nature, i.e. They only thrive where

Roundup is applied so they can outcompete neighboring plants. That doesn't happen in nature. The contamination hypothesis as it relates to organic production, well a) there are already sorting practices that keep crop products well away from one another and compartmentalized through the feed chain and B) organic certification comes up to semantic issues when dealing with GMOs in different jurisdictions. As I said before, Canada doesn't even recognize that term, preferring 'plants with novel traits', which accounts for the numerous technologies that can alter gene frequencies/activities and not just transgenics (which seems to be public bogeyman on this topic).

With respect to the Monsanto money grab, I totally agree and don't want to encourage them but since Ag-Can pulled out of biotechnologies in the 90s we are not in the GMO business anymore. I prefer to discuss the potential benefits of proper uses of the technologies overall than let this one dishonorable form of crop patenting be outed for what it is, rather than allow it to taint the whole field as a prospect. So regulation yes, moratorium no.

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Ok timouse, that could be a good point if we assume that the new gene products are different from those in non-gmo plants (otherwise they call the two 'substantially equivalent'). That is not known and I agree that the regulatory mechanisms are wholly inadequate to address long-term effects of chronic levels of exposure.

Glyphosate inhibits amino acid synthesis in plants and it's resistance in these gmos is presumably some kind of receptor desensitization. There is no a priori reason to suspect nefarious health effects. However, I also prefer to err on the side of caution.

The contamination hypothesis is not very robust either, in that agricultural crops have little potential of becoming 'super-weeds' because they have no advantage outside or the agrifield in nature, i.e. They only thrive where

Roundup is applied so they can outcompete neighboring plants. That doesn't happen in nature. The contamination hypothesis as it relates to organic production, well a) there are already sorting practices that keep crop products well away from one another and compartmentalized through the feed chain and B) organic certification comes up to semantic issues when dealing with GMOs in different jurisdictions. As I said before, Canada doesn't even recognize that term, preferring 'plants with novel traits', which accounts for the numerous technologies that can alter gene frequencies/activities and not just transgenics (which seems to be public bogeyman on this topic).

With respect to the Monsanto money grab, I totally agree and don't want to encourage them but since Ag-Can pulled out of biotechnologies in the 90s we are not in the GMO business anymore. I prefer to discuss the potential benefits of proper uses of the technologies overall than let this one dishonorable form of crop patenting be outed for what it is, rather than allow it to taint the whole field as a prospect. So regulation yes, moratorium no.

well put.

the most shocking thing i have learned about the world of biotech is the relative lack of oversight. when the proponent of a GE technology looks for approval, they submit their research, and their claims are evaluated without third party verification. if biotech is going to move forward and advance the interests of humanity and the environment rather than the interests of the patent holders, there needs to be independent research done on emerging technologies.

there are so many examples of less than stellar biotech ( starlink corn, triffid flaxseed, and even the virtual end of organic canola) that something needs to change.

I have heard a proposal repeated that the biotech companies, maybe through CropLife, fund independent research to duplicate company science before health canada or ag canada approve a GE technology.

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agreed. In fact, it is the same problem with Pesticide approval and regulation, that all the data is provided by industry before evaluation. It is only after the fact, once long-term university lab-driven studies have come out that we find that their data are wholly inadequate for providing a full perspective on the ecological fate of the new product.

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