Halifax Media Co-op

News from Nova Scotia's Grassroots

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!

Controversy Grows Over Brier Corporate Sponsor Monsanto

Monsanto’s GE seeds cause havoc for farmers

by Ecology Action Centre

Halifax, Thursday, March 11, 2010 – The corporate sponsor of this week’s Brier, biotechnology company Monsanto, is under intense scrutiny from environmental, consumer and farmer groups in Nova Scotia, and across Canada and the world.

“Many curling fans might be shocked to learn that the Brier sponsor Monsanto is at the centre of farmer and consumer battles over genetically engineered seeds and increasing corporate control in farming,” said Marla MacLeod of Ecology Action Centre, a Nova Scotia-wide environmental group. “We are saddened that the great Brier championship is now associated with this relentlessly controversial company,” said MacLeod.

Earlier this year, the Curling Association of Canada signed a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Monsanto that includes championships through to 2013. Monsanto has sponsored the Brier since 2006. This week’s Brier runs until Sunday March 14 in Halifax.

Monsanto is the largest seed company in the world and owns approximately 86% of all the genetically engineered (GE) seeds sown across the globe.  GE corn, canola, soy and sugar beet (white) are grown in Canada and Monsanto dominates the market in all four crops.

“Curling is being used to soften the image of a company that takes farmers in Canada to court for alleged patent infringement, for saving seeds,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN). Monsanto now puts farmers that it sues onto an “Unauthorized Grower List” which prohibits them from buying Monsanto products in the future. “The Curling Association should not be providing a platform for Monsanto’s corporate public relations,” said Sharratt.

Monsanto’s GE seeds are causing havoc for many farmers in Canada. Saskatchewan organic grain farmers tried to establish a class action lawsuit to seek compensation from Monsanto and another corporation for loss of organic canola due to GE contamination. A Private Members Bill – Bill C-474 - will be debated in the House of Commons on Wednesday March 17, to address the issue of export market harm caused by GE seeds.

Groups across the country are engaged in various struggles to stop Monsanto’s GE seeds from harming farmers’ livelihoods and the environment. Just last week, farm groups and consumers from across Canada wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to try to stop the lifting of an injunction on planting Monsanto’s GE alfalfa. “The release of Monsanto’s GE alfalfa would be an immediate threat to organic food and farming in Canada,” said Cammie Harbottle, Youth Vice President of the National Farmer Union and a farmer in Nova Scotia.

“We don’t want the great sport of curling marred by association with the harm that can be caused by genetically engineered seeds,” said MacLeod.

For more information: Marla MacLeod, Ecology Action Centre, 902 442 1077; Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext.6 or cell 613 263 9511; Cammie Harbottle, National Farmers Union, 306 652 9465. For background on Monsanto: www.cban.ca/Monsanto


Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
460 words



 It's time for all Canadians to take a stand regarding food safety. For too many years, corporations like Monsanto have bullied farmers into using their contaminated products and silenced those in the industry that have tried to get the word out. The only way we can ensure that something as precious as our food supply is safe is to stop letting companies like this buy our silence with their contributions to our community activities. We know how important a winter sport like curling is to the fabric of our northern culture. It's imperative that a corrupt company like Monsanto is not allowed to hide themselves behind such a lovely and pure pastime. The Brier will survive without the support of a company like this. Stand up. Be counted. Support our farmers once and for all.

Monsanto sponsorship good for Brier

What an incredibly biased and one-sided article.   Monsanto's products have delivered tremendous value to Canadian growers--that's what they continue to be so popular.  As for their "unauthorised grower list", what's the big deal?  if the growers don't want to buy the seeds, then they shouldn't care.  And if they do, they should have followed the rules like everybody else.

How about reporting on the outcome of the organic grower's suit, not just that they filed one?  The fact is they lost because they didn't have a case.  This small group of farmers tried to hijack the entire industry and prevent the large majority growers who choose to plant biotech crops from doing so.


Any claims or concerns about so-called gene-flow harming organic growers is misplaced--under the organic rules, inadvertent presence of biotech crops does not harm the organic certification for the crop.  Actually, it's the biotech growers who probably legitimately might have a claim against organic growers due to gene flow--when the pollen of inferior so-called "conventional" seeds makes its way into a biotech field, the result can be that the biotech crop loses its herbicide tolerance, reducing yields and causing real measurable damage to the grower's bottom line.  

By the way, I say "so-called conventional" crops because the vast majority of "conventional" organic crops are produced using mutant seeds created using high doses of radiation to foster random and uncontrollable mutations to improve desireable traits.  These crops are NEVER TESTED to demonstrate safety and the so-called organic breeders responsible for this don't really have any idea what makes their mutant crops behave differently from non-mutated varieties.

And just for the record, the VAST MAJORITY of Canada's farmland uses mutant crops created this way.  Durum wheat and semolina is 100% derived from mutant crops created using this "conventional" or "organic" breeding method.

Don't get me wrong, I actually support organic agriculture--because it offers CHOICE to growers (although i am a wary of eating raw organic vegetables, which can have high levels of e-coli bacteria due to the use of manure for fertilizer).  But don't pretend that organic farming is something that it is not.  It is NOT safer or even more "natural" than farming using products of modern biotechnology. 

Next time, please find a story worth reporting, or at least try to be a little more balanced. 

To Save Biodiversity

Great to have news from this organized group... Then you add in the petrol chemical industry's involvement with pesticides too!... HOW ABOUT LAUNCHING CITIZEN ACTION TO MAKE SURE NO MONSANTO SEEDS ARE PLANTED ANYWHERE IN NORTH AMERICA THIS YEAR, THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF BIODIVERSITY!!!!!!!


User login

Subscribe to the Dominion $25/year

The Media Co-op's flagship publication features in-depth reporting, original art, and the best grassroots news from across Canada and beyond. Sign up now!