Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.


The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Monsanto alfalfa could hurt Canada's organic markets: MP Atamanenko

Alex Atamanenko, federal NDP agriculture critic and MP for B.C.'s Southern Interior, says he is concerned Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa, which was deregulated yesterday in the United States, will eventually make its way into Canada.

"It is certain that any GE alfalfa grown in the US will inevitably lead to contamination of alfalfa in Canada," Atamanenko told the Boundary Sentinel.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last Thursday that it was deregulating this GE alfalfa developed by biotech giant Monsanto, meaning that there are no rules in place to control the spread of this strain to non-GE alfalfa crops.

Atamanenko called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to urge the U.S. government to reverse it's decision, saying that "the stage is set for Monsanto to irrevocably control this vital crop at the expense of Canada’s entire domestic and organic markets," according to the Boundary Sentinel article.

But the decision was already hotly contested in the U.S. by a diverse group, including the Organic Farming Research Foundation, National Cooperative Grocers Association, National Organic Coalition and the Center for Food Safety.

Alfalfa is the leading source of hay for cattle in the United States, according to a recent Atlantic article on the topic. Opponents who argued for a complete ban on GE alfalfa claim there is no way to guarantee that it won't contaminate non-GE crops, and therefore their organic meat and dairy products.

"Preserving market and farmer choice and agricultural diversity are central to USDA's mission and the future of rural American livelihoods. This failure to do so will make it increasingly difficult to meet the growing demand for U.S. organic crops," Christine Bushway, CEO of the Organic Trade Association said in a recent press release.

Atamanenko introduced Bill C-474 that would require "an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted" before Monsanto's alfalfa or other genetically-engineered crops are sold in Canada. The bill's final reading in the House of Commons is scheduled for Feb. 8.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus