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Canada's Organic Farmers Tell Monsanto to Drop GE Wheat Project

Organic Agriculture Protection Fund
Box 130, Canwood, SK
S0J 0K0
PH: (306) 486-2218
FAX: (306) 468-2346
lester.wyatt@saskorganic.com
www.saskorganic.com

Media Release
January 10, 2004


Organic farmers ask Monsanto to end GE wheat now that
Ag Canada is out

Exactly two years ago today, the certified organic farmers of
Saskatchewan filed their class action lawsuit to stop genetically
engineered wheat. Today we welcome Agriculture Canada¹s decision to halt
further investment in Monsanto¹s commercialization of genetically
engineered Roundup Ready Wheat.

The organic farmers of Saskatchewan have been on the front lines in the
fight against GE wheat. We met twice with now federal agriculture
minister Hon. Bob Speller to express our objection to GE wheat, when he
chaired the Prime Minister¹s Caucus Task Force on Future Opportunities
in Farming and when he was a member of the House of Commons Standing
Committee on Agriculture. We hope that this decision is the first of a
series that will ensure that Canadian farms and consumers will always be
free from genetically engineered wheat.

We are now calling upon Monsanto to abandon its GE wheat project - to
withdraw its application for regulatory approval, stop the test plots,
and destroy all existing Roundup Ready wheat seed.

"Nobody wants GE wheat except for Monsanto, so put this ill-conceived
project out of its misery and abandon it now," is the message from
Arnold Taylor, chair of the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund
committee. "If one cow can devastate the Canadian beef market, think
about what would happen to our wheat markets if GE wheat or pollen were
to escape from a test plot and seed be discovered in a shipment bound
for Europe or Japan."

The organic farmers are suing for an injunction to stop Roundup Ready
wheat, the Canadian Wheat Board has asked Monsanto to withdraw its
application for regulatory approval, and now the Canadian government has
backed out of its commitment to help commercialize this product - what
will it take for Monsanto to listen?

- 30 -

For more information please see attached Media Backgrounder and contact
Arnold Taylor, Chair, OAPF Committee, phone: (306) 252-2783 or
(306) 241-6125
Marc Loiselle, Research Director, OAPF Committee, phone (306) 258-2192
or (306) 227-5825
For details about the OAPF legal action see www.saskorganic.com
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Media Backgrounder
January 10, 2004


Although we welcome the Jan 9th announcement by AAFC to stop investment
in Monsanto's Roundup Ready (RR) wheat, millions of Canadian citizens'
taxpayer dollars have already been squandered on RR wheat since 1997.
This wheat has been genetically engineered to be tolerant to glyphosate,
the active ingredient in Monsanto¹s herbicide Roundup.

There are other steps needed to be taken to stop the threat of GE wheat
to our farms, the economy, seed and food supply, public health and the
environment as a whole. Consider the following points:

* We presume that the AAFC announcement means stopping the Sept 11, 1997
eight year "Collaborative Research Agreement" between the federal
government and Monsanto Canada Inc that clearly states AAFC's role as
the developer of RR wheat for commercialization.
See <http://www.healthcoalition.ca/monsanto-sweetheart-deal.pdf

* Monsanto's Dec 23, 2002 application for regulatory approval of RR
wheat is still pending. This application to the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency (CFIA) is for general cultivation (unconfined environmental
release) and for livestock feed. Health Canada received a submission
from Monsanto Canada Inc. on July 31, 2002. Health Canada is responsible
for approving novel foods (such as those derived from GE wheat) for
human consumption.
See http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/plaveg/bio/monsane.shtml

* AAFC officials have been Monsanto's spokespersons on RR wheat. Indeed,
their lead investigator on RR wheat at the start of the 1997
Collaborative Research Agreement is now a key Monsanto official on the
RR wheat portfolio.

* 53 confined research field trials of novel wheat were conducted in
2002, 46 were tests of Monsanto GE wheat including 12 test plots for the
Western Canadian Private Bread Wheat Registration Trial. Isolation
perimeter zones surrounding RR wheat confined field test plots are set
at only 30 metres, when it is known that wheat pollen can drift much
further.

* AAFC Scott Experimental Farm (a satellite of the Saskatoon AAFC
Research Station) has been growing RR wheat in test plots since 1998.

* RR wheat plots have been grown on land rented or leased from private
land owners such as the 2002 and 2003 plots at Aberdeen, Saskatchewan.
See OAPF website News link item: Saskatchewan News Network, August 09,
2003 "Lining up against GM wheat" at
http://www.saskorganic.com/oapf/news.html

* Stopping further growing of RR wheat includes AAFC test plots, private
land plots including Monsanto's own research land and facilities
necessitates extensive cleanup of these sites and extended monitoring
over and above current Canadian Food Inspection Agency's protocol of 2
years.
http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/plaveg/bio/dir/dir0007appe.shtml#APPENDIX
2

* Canada's markets for wheat have been put at risk by AAFC's involvement
as a promoter and developer of RR wheat which conflicts with their role
as the regulator of GE wheat. Over 80% of the Canadian Wheat Board¹s
importers have said no to Roundup Ready wheat. In Japan, for example,
there is a strong movement against GE wheat that warns us that Canada
could lose all wheat markets for that country.

* A Recent AAFC research study appears to show a definitive link to
increased fusarium head blight because of glyphosate use; therefore the
commercialization of RR wheat would unquestionably compound that problem
which is a serious health safety concern besides being a serious
agronomic and economic concern. See the National Farmers Union December
11 news release http://www.nfu.ca/section1.html and the study abstract
at: http://www.umanitoba.ca/afs/agronomists_conf/fernandez.html

* On February 19, 2002 Arnold Taylor represented the Saskatchewan
Organic Directorate (SOD) at a House of Commons Agriculture Committee
hearing in Davidson http://www.saskorganic.com/oapf/lobby.html and made
clear our opposition to GE wheat and canola and the overall threat of
genetic engineered crops to organic production.

* On June 26, 2002 the OAPF was successful in getting a key study
released by AAFC that discloses that growers producing Certified canola
seed for the conventional canola market cannot prevent genetic
contamination of their seed by Monsanto's RR Canola
http://www.saskorganic.com/oapf/class-action.html Monsanto¹s RR wheat
poses a very similar threat to seed stock contamination for all classes
of wheat grown in Canada.

* There have been repeated requests to the federal agriculture ministry
to revamp the regulatory approval process for plants with novel traits
(ie: genetically engineered/transgenic crops); there has been no change.
Some of the required changes include adding socio-economic and market
impact criteria, replacing the "substantial equivalence" decision
threshold with sound independent scientific scrutiny, and providing for
public consultation prior to releasing GE crops.

* The variety registration process, starting with the Prairie
Registration Recommending Committee for Grain, must also entrench market
impact criteria in their operating procedures.

* Three leading plant scientists from the University of Manitoba have
concluded that the unconfined release of Monsanto's Roundup Ready wheat
in Western Canada poses an unacceptable level of environmental risk. On
July 9, 2003 the Canadian Wheat Board put out a news release to
highlight this study. http://www.cwb.ca/en/news/releases/2003/070903.jsp
"The unconfined release of Roundup Ready wheat will negatively affect
the environment and limit farmers' ability to conserve natural resources
on farms in Western Canada." noted Dr. Rene Van Acker, Dr. Anita
Brûlé-Babel and Lyle Friesen in their report.
http://www.cwb.ca/en/topics/biotechnology/report/index.jsp

* Monsanto has argued that GE crops such as RR wheat give farmers
choice. The reality is that they appear to give choice to some, but take
choice away from everyone else, including the consumer.

* The position paper on GMOs lays out the foundation for the decision to
go ahead with the class action lawsuit.
http://www.saskorganic.com/oapf/legal.html

For more information please contact:
Arnold Taylor, Chair, OAPF Committee, phone: (306) 252-2783 or (306) 241-6125
Marc Loiselle, Research Director, OAPF Committee, phone (306) 258-2192
or (306) 227-5825
For details about the OAPF legal action see www.saskorganic.com



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