Does the Minister understand?

I read with interest comments that were published recently in your paper by federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in which he says that the farmers he listened to were opposed to my Bill C-474.

Dear Editor,

The selective group of farm organizations the Minister refers to can hardly be considered as representative of the majority of farmers in this country. For instance, he didn’t listen to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the umbrella organization representing 200,000 Canadian farmers, including 80,000 Canadian Wheat Board farmers, who were very much in support of a mechanism to consider the market implications of introducing new GE seeds.  Nor did he listen to the Manitoba Forage Council or the National Farmers Union, who came out strongly in favour of the intent behind the bill.  The Minister was deaf to the concerns of the Okanagan & Similkameen fruit growers concerned about the potential release of a GM non-browning apple not to mention every organic farmer in Canada who is faced with the threat of Monsanto’s GE alfalfa.

The Canola Council and the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association (WCWGA), two of the groups that the Minister says he did listen to, are also the ones with the strongest ties to giant biotech and grain companies.  The Canola farmers referred to by the Minister are growing GM canola almost exclusively for secure markets and so have little to fear from any market analysis that C-474 would have required.  The WCWGA is working hand in hand with the government to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board who opposes the introduction of GM wheat.

The Minister does not seem to understand that his job is to act in the best interests of all Canadians, not just a select few with strong ties to industry intent upon monopolizing every aspect of the world’s food supply.

Alex Atamanenko, MP

B.C. Southern Interior