Thursday, March 31, 2011

National Farmers Union:5 Reasons why we don't want CETA

I am passing along this very important information I received as a member of the NFU.
Please read and act!


(Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement)
The Canadian government is currently negotiating an agreement with the European Union (EU), called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA for short. CETA is the farthest
reaching trade agreement Canada has ever negotiated. For the first time, an international trade agreement reaches beyond the federal level and into provincial, territorial and municipal jurisdictions, giving corporations more access and control over governments and government entities than ever before. CETA has deeply negative implications for the future of our family farms, our rural communities and our democracy.
CETA is good for corporations and bad for Canadians. If adopted with current European positions CETA will:
1. Severely restrict farmers’ ability to save, reuse, exchange and sell seed. CETA adds precautionary seizure provisions to intellectual property rights’ enforcement. This means that farmers accused of having a patented gene in their crops or seed could lose their farms, crops, equipment and cash – simply for alleged infringement. The Agreement would extend precautionary seizure provisions to third parties. For example, the owner of a seed cleaning operation whose customer is accused of patent infringement could also have his/her property seized. These expanded intellectual property rights enforcement tools would increase corporate control of our farms, increase seed costs, and destroy farmers’ autonomy.
2. Increase corporate patent rights for drugs and chemicals. The Europeans are calling for monopoly patent rights to be extended by the length of time it takes the regulator to approve a product, which would create pressure for hasty, and perhaps dangerous approvals. They also want to add more time to these patent rights if a minor use for a drug or chemical is found. Any data the company supplied to the regulator would also remain exclusive to the company for 10 to 13 years. These measures would hamper generic manufacturers and add huge costs to purchasers – including our Medicare system where drugs make up 50% of costs. CETA would transfer even more of our healthcare dollars to big pharmaceutical companies.
3. Undermine federal, provincial and municipal local purchasing policies. CETA would forbid all government entities including schools, hospitals, universities and municipalities from favouring local or domestic businesses. Governments would no longer be able to support local providers of goods and services through local procurement policies. For example, a government that wanted to support local agriculture by promoting local food would not be able to implement a policy favouring government purchasing of local food over imported food. This would be subject to certain thresholds – some provinces are suggesting as low as $25,000.
4. Lead to reduction in so-called “production and trade distorting domestic
support”. CETA signatories would agree to co-operate at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to reduce agriculture safety net measures. These negotiations also lay the groundwork and justification for dismantling our supply management system in the future.
5. Cripple the Canadian Wheat Board. CETA would end loan and initial payment guarantees by the federal government for the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB). This would cost farmers millions of dollars by making the CWB more vulnerable to unforeseen risks and reducing its ability to negotiate strong prices for farmers in the international marketplace. CETA threatens the viability of western grain farmers’ last pillar of market power – the single-desk seller of Canadian wheat into export markets.
Proponents of CETA argue that it would open up the European market to Canada’s genetically-modified (GM) crops and hormone-treated beef. This is false. Canadian negotiators are only pushing for EU GM contamination level standards to increase from 0.01% to 0.1%. If Canada does obtain more market access, CETA also specifically exempts GM organisms. The European market has been closed to hormone-treated beef due to health concerns, and a trade agreement will not change consumers’ opinions. If Canada wants access to the European beef market we could simply adopt equivalent standards and eliminate growth hormones from our production system.
Canadian agriculture has nothing to gain from this agreement and everything to lose.
(over...)CETA threatens our democracy.
The CETA agreement is being negotiated behind closed doors. The vast majority of Canadians have not been consulted. Both the EU and Canadian governments refuse to disclose their draft texts as each round of negotiation is completed. In spite of this we have been able to obtain leaked copies of the text.
The corporate rights claimed under CETA would be enforced via the infamous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Chapter 11 investor protection mechanisms which give corporations the right to sue governments for lost profits. CETA goes further and also states that governments would be responsible for financially compensating corporations during times of war and civil strife.
Giving corporations the right to sue governments at every level for making decisions in the interest of Canadian citizens is profoundly undemocratic. Ultimately, CETA is a corporate bill of rights that would severely limit the power of our elected officials to act on our behalf. It is unlikely that the Agreement would lead to increased trade between Canada and the EU or in more market access for Canadian products and companies. Instead, CETA would limit the role of government to work in the public interest.
CETA is good for corporations and bad for citizens.
What YOU can do
to protect your seed, your farm, and your democratic rights from being bargained away in CETA:
1. Join and/or donate to the National Farmers Union to work on your behalf. Family farm memberships are $195.00. Non-farmers can join as associate members for $65.00. Send memberships or donations by mail to: 2717 Wentz Avenue Saskatoon, SK S7K 4B6 or go online at .
2. Sign the petition to stop CETA. See . 3. Write, phone, fax or email your federal, provincial and municipal leaders to
voice your concerns.
The Prime Minister, the Minister of International Trade, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri- Food and your own Member of Parliament
The leaders of the opposition parties and their critics for Trade and Agriculture
Correspondence to Members of Parliament does not require a stamp. The address is: House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6. To send an email, go to and click on “Senators and Members” to find email addresses.
Send a copy to the Premier of your Province. Send a copy to your municipal, school, and hospital representatives.
4. Send a copy to the NFU at 2717 Wentz Avenue, Saskatoon, SK S7K 4B6. 5. Get the word out about the risks of CETA. Inform your fellow citizens by email,
Facebook and other social media, phone and fax!
In addition to food and agriculture, CETA would increase corporate control over other fundamental aspects of Canadian society, including culture, good jobs, telecommunications, public postal service, public services, indigenous rights, environmental protection and Medicare.
For more information on CETA from the NFU and our allies in the Trade Justice Network, see the following resources:
National Farmers Union
Listen to NFU President Terry Boehm’s presentation on CETA from the 2010 NFU Convention
Trade Justice Network
Open Civil Society Declaration on CETA

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bewitching Bicolours- Heirloom Tomatoes of course!

This time of year tends to be pretty busy.

Winter crops in the hoop house are doing a final surge, while indoors it's peak planting time for warm weather crops like... TOMATOES!!

I take a while to get all my tomatoes seeded.  It isn't just the planting per se.  It's the organizing prior to planting that takes as much time, if not more.

Hundreds and hundreds of varieties need to be categorized by colour, and then placed in alphabetical order.
Quite honestly, it gives me a bit of a headache.  But in the long run, it saves so much time.  Imagine trying to find a particular variety in a hurry with no semblance of a system at all.

Today was the bicolour day. Bicolour varieties are just what the name tells you...two colours in one tomato.  Think stripes, blushes, mottling and most importantly fun.  I planted 68 varieties today, and am not quite done with them.

I love the bicolours and that is why I grow so many. From the big yellow and red beauties like Pineapple, Striped German and Candy Stripe, with their fruity sweet taste to the zebras-green, black, yellow, white and red with their traffic stopping good looks, they are hard to resist.

Did I mention fun?

Let me tell you a funny little story about a funky red tomato with gold striping called Aviuri.  I few years back after I had dropped off all my CSA veg baskets at my St Catharines "depot" (Holly's house), I got a call from my friend Tiffany.  She had gone to pick up her veg basket, but returned home empty handed.  Somewhat bewildered, she wondered if I had forgotten her basket this particular week. I was quite sure I hadn't and asked her if there were any baskets at all left.  As it turned out there was one...for Aviuri.
In my haste to get the baskets out, I grabbed some old tomato tags, plugged the names of my shareholders on the blank side, and popped them through the wood slats on my baskets. Tiffany, aka Aviuri went back to get her basket.

I don't have a quip for every bicolour tomato in my collection, but I guess could tell the one about my  blonde friend Emily who helped me today and was asking about the Blonde Boar tomato. Hmm. (She's NOT a bore.)

There are some bicolours that are particularly unique and tasty.  In fact for my tastes, I find this whole category of tomatoes the tastiest and most popular.

Pineapple is always a sell-out, and I have mentioned in previous blog posts my new love, Tuxhorn. Some of the tomatoes are very similar-Old German, Striped German, Big Rainbow and Flame . Each is a large yellow tomato, with a red blush on the bottom , and red emanating up through the centre.  What pretty tomatoes sliced on a plate, or in salads. There taste is a very pleasant and sweet reminder that, yes, tomatoes are a fruit.

Michael Pollan-created by Brad Gates
Some of the very unique bicolours are "created" heirlooms- the very interesting and prolific Michael Pollan, a pear-shaped smallish green, with yellow striping, the peach-fuzzy Red Furry Hog, red with yellow striping, and the far-out striping of the Berkley Tie Dye trio ; the original, Berkley Tie Dye Pink, and Berkley Tie Dye Heart.

Some of the small ones are my favourites. ( I haven't said that about any other tomatoes have I?) Isis Candy Cherry is delicious...a pale yellow cherry with red mottling.  Similar, but a tad larger is Bicolor Cherry, and then there is the so-pretty Piedmont Pear, a pale yellow pear with red mottling.  These tomatoes are super sweet.

You'll be lucky to try Little Lucky.  A mid sized pale yellow with a pronounced red blush, again absolutely delicious.

I'll have these and the hundred or so bicolours I grow available at my "Tomato Days" sale the May 21-22 weekend.

If you aren't nearby and grow your own from seed, membership in the wonderful Seed Savers Exchange or Seeds of Diversity will give you access to an amazing number of varieties.  Not seed catalogues, but sharing mechanisms, they encourage seed saving and promote diversity.

Tom Wagner's Green Zebra
Piedmont Pear

Add a bit of colour to your meals this summer.  Try a bicolour!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hi Ma

There isn't much I can look at in my garden that doesn't remind me of my mom.

From the asparagus, rhubarb, black currants and raspberries that she tended and we sold as kids at our little stand on Hwy 6 in Flamborough.  Her herb garden with it's mix of the usual and unusual.... horehound, sweet cicely, rosemary.

The flowers. Peonies, lilies and her beloved rhododendrons.

My mom grew it all....heartnuts, walnuts, osage oranges.  Ground cherries, tomatillos, heirloom tomatoes.  A new old favourite I introduced to her, Cuban Yellow Grape.

She had many of her own horticultural adventures.  She volunteered at the Royal Botanical Gardens for a good 40 years.

She was a compulsive seed collector, cutting taker and volunteer seedling collector.  I have chestnut trees she started from chestnuts she found on her walks, maple trees from seedlings she found growing and unloved.

We had our horticultural adventures together too.

In the fall we faithfully made the trip to the fantastic Guelph Arboretum for the sale of unusual plants and trees.  In February, up to William Dam Seeds in Flamborough to check out the seed selection for the upcoming season.

We went to Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa to be a part of their annual convention and wander their seed saving gardens.

Our biggest horticultural adventure together was her decision to move closer to me to help in the gardens after my dad passed away.  Planting in the cold weather, transplanting, writing tags, harvesting in the rain... if the weather was good enough for me to work, my mom worked too.

I have been thinking about my mom a whole lot today.  It has been exactly three years today that she passed away of breast cancer.

Sometimes I have the urge to pick up the phone and say as I always have "Hi Ma". If only I could.

My mom like all people was far from being uni-dimensional.  But after her diagnosis of terminal cancer, it was the garden that gave her optimism and kept her going.  She was not ever one to wallow in pity or to be fussed over.  She was thoroughly annoyed when she was assigned a visiting nurse who stopped in twice a week.  The nurse soon learned that mom wasn't coming in from the garden to talk to her.  The nurse would have to meet with her in the garden.

And as long as she could, she stayed in her garden,watching seed grow and believing in life.

Miss you, mom.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Now... what tomatoes to grow?

Last year was a great tomato growing year and a chance to find some new favourite varieties.

Of course my favourite tomato varieties number in the hundreds now, but every year there are some that tend to really shine that perhaps I haven't noticed too much in the years before.  

And every year I'm bring "new" heirlooms into the fold to test out.

So it might be worth mentioning some of these varieties.  Maybe some you have tried..maybe some you've never heard of.  

Some tomatoes I know I am very vocal in suggesting to others.  When people ask me what tomato I wouldn't be without...well Stupice  (stoo-peach-ka) is the first I'll mention.  Small, great flavoured and extra super early it is a reliable performer for the long haul.

I know that people consider roma tomatoes THE tomatoes for canning and paste.  But is it because they haven't tried some others, that might be just a little better-  in my humble opinion?  Federle for me is that tomato- a long, sausage-type paste, with rich flavoured flesh, meaty and a small seed cavity.This is such a good tomato and there are others very similar-Opalka, Jersey Devil and Howard German.  These tomatoes give you much more bang for your buck than romas, starting with flavour.

Cafe Bule
Reisentraube is my most popular and best selling cherry tomato, hands down.  It is a prolific producer of sweet little reds, with a pointed end, and the tomatoes in bunches like grapes.  

I do like it, as I also like the popular pears, yellow and red, with ivory and brown (Cafe Bule) being my favourites.  But for small cherry types, Dr Carolyn's and Snow White are super sweet and delicious, and Green Doctors is also highly addictive.  If your are stuck on red tomatoes, maybe 2011 is the time to give green, white and brown cherries a try.  You won't be disappointed.

I also am partial to green tomatoes. The big green beefsteak type, Aunt Ruby's German Green and Cherokee Green in particular are refreshing and distinctive. I find people are a little unsure about trying the green tomatoes, the exception being Tom Wagner's magnificent Green Zebra, which everyone wants! (Don't forget that again this year all the money from Green Zebra seeds and plants I sell actually will go to Tom as it did last year.)

But they are truly worthwhile and really- it is easy, easy to tell they're ripe. They don't look like unripe tomatoes, and they are a bit soft to touch. Voila! A ripe green tomato and a delectable treat.

Last year two of the super standouts were Maylor Roth's Orange Brandywine, an absolutely luscious, sweet and dense non-potato leaf orange and Tuxhorn a massive  rippled bicolour, which was so sweet and fruity.  Both varieties were great producers and are really worth a spot in your garden.  

And, I'll talk about lots more of my favourites too, which will all be here for sale in the spring, healthy and ready for your garden. 

And maybe, just maybe, your garden needs to be bigger!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Get ready, get set...time to plant tomatoes!

It always happens that I have to start seeding tomatoes (indoors of course) at the same time my kids have their March Break from school.

So while other families are off to the Science Centre or enrolled in fun activities, my Emily (then), and now Mollie are at home finding specific tomato seeds for me to plant, or more fun yet, organizing tomato seeds in alphabetical order.  They love that activity!

Yes, it is that time.

Although it isn't really necessary to start your tomato seeds quite yet if you have small quantities to plant, I need to start now or otherwise I just run out of time.  I will seed tomatoes now pretty much for 2 weeks straight.  It's lots of tomatoes this year, as always.

And that brings us to April 1, when, April Fools - it's really time to get your tomatoes in!

In my area in Southern Ontario, the common wisdom is that it is generally okay to get your warm weather plants out into your garden by May 24. (We say it May two-four because it is a long weekend- and you know, beer, two-four...).  At this point that date is 10 weeks off.

The 24th is generally considered to be the frost free date, but really, the last few years we have had some chilly late May days and nights, so judge accordingly.  Warm weather plants don't appreciate being shoved into cold ground and being forced to tolerate cold nights.

Tomatoes like a good 6-8 week advance start.  So early April really is ideal to get those tomatoes going.
A nice light seed starting mix , either purchased or concocted yourself is ideal.  Potting soil and garden soil is really to heavy for the job.  Some folks use straight compost, or mixes with perlite, vermiculite and peat or coir (coconut shell fibre).

I add hot water to my seeding mix in a pail, and stir it up with my elbow deep in the warm earthy goodness.  When nicely moist, but not wet, I add it to my planting container.  I use cell trays, but anything with good drainage will do....yogourt tubs, egg shells or cartons or whatever is convenient.

I poke a little hole in the spot I want the seed planted, then pop in a seed, or two or three, then cover lightly with more seeding mix.  When I'm done, I carefully label what I have planted, then spray it with a hot water mist, cover it with my humidity dome and place it under my florescent lights.

I keep the light very low over the seed tray until the seeds have germinated, then raise them as the plants grow.  This can be done in a sunny window as well, but the plants tend to reach for the sun...becoming more spindly and tall.  If you do use a window, remember to turn the plant so all side have equal access to the light, and put the plants in very deep when the time comes to transplant them - that is, bury the stem.

When my tomatoes are up in the trays I brush them with my hand several times a day.  Ahh- the smell is wonderful, but also it makes them healthy and stocky.  I also move them into a cooler location which slows the growth and makes them strong.

When the second set of leaves appear, it's time to transplant.  I prefer to put my plants into 3-4" plastic pots, which I use over and over again...and will gladly take off your hands if you don't need them.  I find the plastic retains moisture better, and the plants are healthier for it.  I pull the plants out by their stems, not leaves, put them deep into a pot filled with the same warm seeding mix, only the top two sets of leaves showing.  The tomatoes will quickly root all the way up the stem and your plant will be super strong with a well established root system.

I water then with a good organic fertilizer, like a diluted kelp solution.  At this point, because I have run out of indoor light and space, my plants are in my double poly hoop house, with shade to prevent them from burning and assist them in their adjustment to different conditions.

Gradually I remove the shade, and by the time it's warm outside they are removed from the hoop house and completely" hardened off ", or adjusted to the outdoor conditions.  I continue with the organic fertilizer every week.

I found last year the best thing I did was hold off on the water.  I bought 600 ft of hose to reach to my far tomato field, but only used it once....watering the plants in to establish them when there was a lack of rain.  I didn't water for the rest of the season...not outside, OR in the hoop house.  The tomatoes were super sweet and their distinct flavours shone.  It makes sense.  In a wet year, tomatoes just don't taste as good, the taste is diluted.  It seems to me that less is more in this case.

The most important thing to remember is that seeds want to grow and reproduce, and there is no reason to think only experts grow from seed.  You can mess up pretty good and they can still carry on.  It is what they were designed by nature to do.

Last year I had little currant tomato that chose to grow on my deck, right beside the patio doors.  She grew with no rain and little sun in likely 1/4 inch of dog fur and Lord knows what other crud that accumulated between the cracks in my deck.  She coped with two pups who pulled at her for fun, and managed to produce some lovely little fruit.  Now that's a tale of survival!

Next up is some of the very cool varieties I'm planting this year- some" new" oldies and some old favourites.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sweet on Sweet peppers!

Red Marconi (and jalapenos!)

2010 was a banner year in the garden here in Southern Ontario.  So many things just went right.  The memories still bring a smile to my face.

The rain came at just the right time, the temperatures were warm well into the fall and I stayed on top of the weeds reasonably well.

Sweet peppers were particularly happy.  I had LOTS!  I'm still grateful for the 2010 harvest of them...I managed to get lots in the freezer and am still using them.

But of course now it is on to the next season.

I like to get all my eggplants, hot peppers and sweet peppers seeded before I get involved with the seeding of heirloom tomatoes.  That's a major job which takes me several weeks. 

Lots of the varieties of sweet peppers I plant have been favourites for years.  This year I planted lots and lots of varieties, perhaps around 40.  But who's counting?!

In my garden here in the balmy Canadian banana belt (CDN Zone 6b), my all time favourite bell pepper is King of the North.  It reliably ripens to red, is a good size and a good producer.  

Jimmy Nardello is a fabulous sweet Italian frying pepper, long and luscious.  Amish Pimento and Tennessee Cheese are two of my favourite pimento types and just so great to pick off the plants and crunch fresh in the garden while working.  I love their thick walls and super sweet taste. 

Red Marconi and Purple Marconi performed beyond all expectations last year.  Long bullhorn type peppers, the plants were pulled over with the weight of these beauties.  They were a bit later than some of the other varieties, but worth the wait.

Orange Bell as well is a standout.  These big, luscious and sweet orange bells do very well in our climate.

One big surprise last year was a variety I trialed for Rodale's Organic Gardening Magazine.  There is both a curse and a blessing planting for a US publication.  If I REALLY like something, there is always a chance that I can't get the seed shipped to Canada in subsequent years.  Fabulous seed companies like Fedco and others won't ship here.  

The blessing is I get to try these varieties, but also my fellow testers are kind Americans who are sympathetic to my plight, and of course I live close to the border!  'Nuff said.

The variety I got really excited about is called Pinot Noir, a hybrid from Burpee.  A hybrid has to be really good to get me excited and this one was really pretty amazing.  It produced super early, long before my other peppers (July!), produced huge quantities and was pretty tasty, although I always like the taste of a ripe pepper at the red stage more than any other. (Yes, any pepper not red, isn't ripe!) Burpee doesn't mail to Canada, and the seed doesn't seem to be available from anyone else. 

But thanks to my fellow tester, the amazing Leslie in Las Vegas, I'm good for seed.

My goal with this variety is to see if I am able to do a grow out and see if over the years I can stabilize it to an open pollinated variety.  With any luck, I'll never want for seed again.

Yesterday was my sweet pepper day.  

I start my peppers in 200 cell trays that I fill with a soil-less mix that I have moistened with hot water. I pop 2 or 3 seeds into each cell and cover with about 1/4 inch of soil.  These trays then go under my lights that are in my nice cozy kitchen, heated by my woodstove.

This heat source is invaluable for the quick sprouting of heat loving plants like peppers.

When planting out it's wise to wait until your soil has really warmed up.  Peppers don't want it cool and can become stunted and suffer blossom drop if exposed to early cold. 

They will thrive in a lovely rich soil.  I always go heavy on the compost and try to plant them in a reasonably light soil. light as it can be in the Haldimand clay belt.  

Any other fabulous peppers out there I should try?
Pinot Noir (purple bell)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Great Big Crunch!

THANKS to Laura for contacting me about this....anybody else game?  Read Laura's note below which tells you how to participate!!

You can contact Laura via twitter (@nfftt ) to let her know you are interested!!

I'll be crunching a Royal Gala from Lincoln Line Orchard-YUM!
The Great Big Crunch is coming up on Thursday, March 10th at 2:30pm EST. You can read about it here but the gist is that kids all over will be crunching into local apples at the exact same time. Schools have registered across the country and beyond, and some kids will even go on their loud speakers to rally everybody to make a great big CRUNCH! It's fun, it's simple, and it promotes local food. And it was started right here in Toronto by the school food programs at FoodShare.

The main target is schoolkids but I thought it'd be fun to do a Twitter version. So I'm asking a bunch of food and enviro folks to do the following:

  • Get your paws on a local apple.
  • At 2:30 PM next Thursday, polish your apple and give it a great big CRUNCH!
  • Take a snapshot of you crunching and post it to Twitter (using yfrog, twitpic, your webcam, or whatever other means of photo-tweeting that you use)
What do you think? You in? If so, let me know and I'll tally the positive responses to register us with the official count.

If you can tweet ahead of time (2-3 tweets) letting other folks know, that'd be great. And if you know any tweeple who would be interested, tell them to drop me a line or forward this note.


Laura Reinsborough
Founder & Director
Not Far From The Tree

Monday, March 7, 2011

2011 Hot Pepper Varieties-Bring on the Heat!

1) Pilipili Hoho
4)Leutschauer Paprika
5)Bulgarian Carrot
6) Beaver Dam
7)Lemon Drop
8)Criolla Sella (capsicum baccatum)
9) Aji Yellow
10)Fire-(capsicum chinese)
11)Alma paprika
12)Purple Cayenne
13)Soror Sarek
15)Suryamukhi Cluster (capsicum frutescens)
16)Red Cayenne
17)Guarda Cielo
20) Chapeau de Frades
21)Bahamian Chile
24)Cayenne Golden
25) Indian PC-1
26)Rocoto Orange (capsicum pubescens)
27) Jamaican Red
28)Crimson Hot
29)Red and...
30) Orange chilis , brought back from a friend's travels to Italy
31) Spanish Padron
32) Filus Blue
33)Purple Serrano
34)Jamaican Hot Yellow
HYBRIDS- left over from OG test gardens
35)Big Bomb
37)Chichen Itza
38) Cajun Belle

39)Bhut Jolokia  not hybrid
40)Hinkelhatz (from SSE for OG test garden)  not hybrid

Holy hot peppers, Batman!

It is a lot of fine hot peppers I've gone and planted this year !!

Some are mildly hot, some are super scorchers.  If you are coming to my "Tomato Days" sale in 2011 on May 21, 22, you can look forward to seeing these varieties for sale as transplants.  I see >>heat<< in your future!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Please support a moratorium on GM Alfalfa

Please distribute widely: Issued March 4, 2011     

Urgent Action Alert - Support a Moratorium on Genetically Modified Alfalfa -  Take Action Before Thursday March 10!

A moratorium on genetically modified (GM) alfalfa in Canada could be approved this month! Take Action today at

On Thursday, March 10, the House of Commons Agriculture Committee will vote on a new Liberal Party motion for a moratorium on the approval of GM alfalfa! Your actions before March 10 could make this moratorium happen.

Watch and share the video!

Write instant letters to the Agriculture Committee members at and check back for more action.

Genetically modified (herbicide tolerant) alfalfa threatens the future of organic food and farming. Conventional farmers will also lose their markets. In addition to export markets for processed alfalfa products, alfalfa is used as a forage crop in pastures and as hay for high-protein feed for dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, and pigs. It is also a natural source of nitrogen to fertilize the soil, making it particularly important for organic farming. Alfalfa is pollinated by bees and other insects, making it easy for contamination to spread. Alfalfa is also a perennial which means that each new GM alfalfa plant can grow and produce viable seed for several years.
The House of Commons Agriculture Committee needs to put the motion for a moratorium on the top of their list in order to vote "yes" to the motion on March 10th. The NDP and Bloc both support the motion, the Liberals need to act to make sure their motion is more than just words, and the Conservatives need to support the moratorium.

Your actions to support Bill C-474 made this motion happen! Liberal Agriculture Critic Wayne Easter said in his March 3 press release: "The reason for this direct call to action stems from testimony presented to the committee during its study of biotechnology, as well as, from the debate on a Bill focused on potential economic harm in to export markets from GM seeds.”

Motion: "That the Standing Committee on Agriculture & Agri-food recommend that the government place a moratorium on any approval of Roundup Ready Alfalfa until the Government completes public research : (a) into Canada’s ability to ensure the genetic integrity, production and preservation of a diversity of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), non-GMO and organic alfalfa production; (b) the ability of Canada’s handling and transportation system to ensure segregation of forage seeds and detection of genetic co-mingling in alfalfa seeds and hay; (c) the development of industry-led, third party audit and verification systems;  (d) that these findings be reported back to the Committee; and (e) that this motion be reported to the House."

In a press release, NDP Agriculture Critic Alex Atamaneko, who has been working for this step, said “I will certainly be supporting the committee motion just introduced by Liberal Wayne Easter recommending a moratorium on GMO alfalfa until further research is completed.”

The next two weeks are critical. Please take action now and stay tuned to for more information, updates and new actions!

This action alert was issued March 4, 2011 by the 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

Support the Moratorium on GM Alfalfa! Take action by March 10, 2011 at

Donate today to support the campaign!

Subscribe to the CBAN News and Action Listserve

Thursday, March 3, 2011

NFU press release on Enviropig

Why, oh why are scientists rushing to get out GE pigs and fish?  Please read this press release from the National Farmers Union 

March 2nd, 2011


GuelphOntario – On March 1st, National Farmers Union (NFU) Region 3 Coordinator Sean McGivern met with the Board of Directors and senior staff of Ontario Pork to warn them about the dangers of the Enviropig.  The so-calledEnviropig is a genetically modified pig developed by researchers at the University of Guelph, and is designed to reduce feed costs for pig farmers and phosphorus pollution of surface and ground water.  The Enviropig excretes less phosphorous manure, which its proponents argue makes it a more environmentally friendly type of pig.  Ontario Pork has invested a significant amount of funds in the project.  Enviropig is not the answer.  The answer is good farm management,” NFU Region 3 Coordinator Sean McGivern told the audience.    

The NFU is part of a coalition of social and environmental groups critical of Enviropig.  These groups argue that the real cause of surface and ground water pollution is the concentration of hog-confinement facilities and the number of animals in them, not the pigs themselves.  They also argue that public money should not have been used to fund the privately-owned genetically modified organism (GMO), nor should humans have the right to genetically modify life forms for private profit.

“The fact is farmers who practise good farm management do not have phosphorous pollution problems.  Those problems are directly related to the type of farm management being practised.  Concentrated hog confinement facilities produce phosphorous pollution,” explained McGivern. 
“Another point is that most livestock producers still use manure as their primary source of fertilizer.  If they can’t get it from manure, they’ll have to get it from big fertilzer companies that are going to charge a high price.  If good farm management is practised, phosphorous will be considered an asset, not a liability,” concluded McGivern.     
“The final point to make is that genetically modified pigs threaten to destroy thousands of years of work by Mother Nature on the pig species.  Once Enviropig is released into the marketplace, there will be no controlling it; there will be no way to track its spread among the rest of the hog population.  Genetic contamination of Canada’s entire pig herd is inevitable if it is released,” stated McGivern.  “Contrary to what a lot of people might like to think, GMO pigs from Canada are not going to be ending up on the plates of people all over the world.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  Many people in many countries just don’t want to eat GMOs.  We’ll lose markets that we have now,” warned McGivern. 

“The most important thing to understand is that Sean McGivern and the NFU have one main focus: to protect the best interests of Ontarian and Canadian farmers.  As I’ve made clear, we have many concerns about GMOs, no matter the type. Enviropig is just the latest form of GMO that farmers in Canada are having to contend with,” concluded McGivern.      

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For further information, please contact:

Sean McGivern,            NFU Region 3 Coordinator                    Home   (519) 794-4445
                                                                                                Cell      (519) 374-9300
Karen Eatwell               NFU Region 3 Executive Secretary        Office  (888) 832-9638