National | Media Release

Farm Groups Call on Ag Minister to Stop Genetically Modified Alfalfa Seed Release

Response to letter from Minister MacAulay

Canadian farm organizations representing a diversity of farmers and production systems are asking the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, to take immediate action to stop any further release of genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) alfalfa seed, following an announcement by the company Forage Genetics International (FGI) that it has sold a limited quantity for spring 2016 planting in Eastern Canada. This is the first time that any GM alfalfa has been sold in Canada.

A letter signed by 15 farm organizations calls upon the Minister to remove variety registration for all GM alfalfa until a full economic impact assessment is conducted, and to establish a protocol for testing all imports of alfalfa seed grown in the US. These measures would stop the sale of GM alfalfa seed in Canada and prevent the inadvertent importation of GM alfalfa via contaminated seed from the US where it has already been introduced.

“It’s imperative that the government take urgent action to stop the commercial introduction of GM alfalfa, to prevent irreversible contamination,” said Marcel Groleau, President of the Union des Producteurs Agricoles, which is the Union of Agricultural Producers in Quebec.

“So many farmer livelihoods will be threatened by proliferation of this one GM crop,” said Peter Eggers, an alfalfa producer in Alberta and National Farmers Union Board member. “Alfalfa is an amazing crop for so many farmers. Losing alfalfa to GM contamination would be devastating for many farmers and consumers. Contamination from GM alfalfa would have serious negative impacts on many different types of farmers and farming systems, both conventional and organic.”

Alfalfa is grown on almost 30% of Canada’s cropland. Alfalfa is used as high-protein feed for dairy and meat animals (hay and pasture). It’s also used in crop rotations to build up the nutrients in soil, making it important for growing grains and vegetables. Canada is the one of the world’s top five exporters of alfalfa pellets and cubes, and exports over $50 million of alfalfa seed every year. However many of Canada’s export markets have not yet approved GM alfalfa.

“The introduction of GM alfalfa could mean we lose some valuable export markets,” said Heather Kerschbaumer of Forage Seed Canada which represents all forage seed producers in Canada, “The risks and costs are just too high for our industry.”

The risk of GM alfalfa spreading to where it is not wanted is acknowledged as particularly high because alfalfa is a perennial crop that is pollinated by bees, it often grows wild in uncultivated areas, and it has tiny seeds.

“Canada’s growing and high-value organic sector could be seriously harmed by GM alfalfa,” said Lisa Mumm, board member of the Canada Organic Trade Association and a farmer-owner of Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds which grows and sells organic spouting seeds for the consumer market, “Many farmers rely on alfalfa to produce a range of organic foods for Canadians.” GM alfalfa is a major concern for organic farmers because the Canadian Organic Standard prohibits the use of GM seeds.

FGI has approval to sell alfalfa with two genetically modified traits licensed from Monsanto, for glyphosate-tolerance and low-lignin.

Farm groups, farm businesses, community groups and non-profit organizations are invited to sign the letter at

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For more information:
Patrice Juneau, Union des Producteurs Agricoles, 450 679 0540 ext. 8591
Peter Eggers, National Farmers Union, 780 568 3805
Heather Kerschbaumer, Forage Seed Canada, 780 835 4508
Lisa Mumm, Canada Organic Trade Association, 306 747-3214

The letter is available here.

The letter was signed by the following organizations:
Atlantic Canadians Organic Regional Network
Canada Organic Trade Association
Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia
Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario
Forage Seed Canada
Growers of Organic Food Yukon
Manitoba Organic Alliance
National Farmers Union
Organic Alberta
Organic Council of Ontario
Organic Federation of Canada
Peace Region Forage Seed Association
Les Producteurs de lait du Québec
L’Union des producteurs agricoles

The letter was also endorsed by the following organizations and businesses:

AB Organic Producers Association
Action pour un environnement sain
Adjala Environmental Studies
Albertans for Food Safety
Amies de la Terre de Brandon
Assocition des producteurs de fraises et framboises du Quebec
Canadian Anti Corruption League
Canadian Organic Growers
EAT Food for Life Canada
Ecology Action Centre
EcoReality Sustainable Land Use and Education Cooperative
Fédération d’Agriculture Biologique du Québec
Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec
Fédération de l’UPA d’Abitibi-Témiscamingue
Fédération de l’UPA de la Montérégie
Fédération de l’UPA-Estrie
Fédération des apiculteurs du Québec
Fédération des éleveurs de grands gibiers du Québec
Fédération UPA Lanaudière
Groupe multiconseiul agricole Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean
Kids Right To Know
Les Amies de la Terre de Québec
Les producteurs en serre du Québec
National Farmers Union, Waterloo Wellington
NFU Local 316 (Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox-Addington)
Ontario Natural Food Co-op
Organic Producers Association of Manitoba
Shelburne County Women’s Fishnet
Slow Food Toronto
Slow Food Toronto
Sonia Gosselin, Club lait bio
Syndicat des producteurs de grains biologiques du Québec
Syndicat des producteurs de lait biologique du Québec
Syndicat des producteurs de lapins du Quebec
Syndicat local Haute Mauricie
Table Filière biologique du Québec
Timmins Ecological Beekeeping Association
Toronto Non-GMO Coalition
Union paysanne
UPA Capitale-Nationale-Côte-Nord
UPA Outaouais-Laurentides
Vigilance OGM
York Region Environmental Alliance
Better Health and Nutrition Coach Inc
Chaibaba Tea House
Coop les Jardins de la Résistance
Coopérative pour l’agriculture de proximité écologique (CAPÉ)
Ecocert Canada
Evelyn’s crackers
Growing Local Productions
LeBeau Excel Ltd.
Mill Street Brewery
ON Dehy Inc.
Organic Garage
Studio le Temps pour Soi
Sunnyside Market Ltd.
Sunpar Properties
9025-4897 Québec Inc
À Deux Pas Du Potager
Ail du Rang St-Olivierr
Au champ d’ail vert inc.
Beitz View Acres
BijkerkVille Tree Farm
Campama Bee Productrs
Circle S Farms Ltd
Clearwater Hosteins and Jerseys
Clef des Champs
Coeur de légumes
Culture B
Erablière du chevreuil
Everdale Environmental Learning Centre
Fair Fields CSA
Fair Fields CSA
Ferme des taures aux jardins
Ferme acabel
Ferme Algan 737 Inc
Ferme anrilyn
Ferme Au Pied-de-Loup
Ferme Aube aux champs
Ferme Auny
Ferme aux petits oignons
Ferme Aventure
Ferme Berlunier Inc
Ferme Bibeau Inc
Ferme Bio-De-Ly
Ferme Cadet Roussel
Ferme Clairbel inc
Ferme David Bélanger
Ferme demca inc.
Ferme Denijos inc.
Ferme des Arpents roses
Ferme des collines vertes
Ferme des Libellules
Ferme Deslie Inc
Ferme Direnat snc
Ferme du Vert Mouton
Ferme fibel et fils inc.
Ferme Flamande inc.
Ferme Frédéric Chollet
Ferme Galvoie (9189-6746 Québec inc)
Ferme Guy et Nicole Enr.
Ferme H.Léonard
Ferme Hugo Robitaille et Marianne Côté
Ferme jour de neige
Ferme Karine et François Inc
Ferme L. & S. Lemieux Inc.
Ferme la Bourrasque
Ferme La Rosée
Ferme Lastholme Farm
Ferme Lavoie Inc
Ferme Lécy Inc
Ferme Liziere Inc
Ferme Luron Enr.
Ferme M. Frappier & Fils Inc
Ferme Malenfant-Chénard Inc
Ferme Manibel Inc
Ferme Marichel
Ferme Optimus senc
Ferme Patrivan senc
Ferme Pellerat
Ferme Picardier
Ferme Pocatoise ltée
Ferme Pré Rieur Inc.
Ferme Rivière Ferrée Inc.
Ferme Romuald
Ferme Roumer Inc
Ferme Rustik Inc
Ferme Stéphane Ouellet
Ferme taillon et fils
Ferme Ticouapé
Ferme Tournevent
Ferme Valdolain Inc
Ferme ValRuest
Ferme Viclair
Ferme Yari nc
Fromagerie l’Ancêtre
Gelro Farms Inc
Graham Farms and Consulting Group
Grazing Days
Hawk Feather Farm
Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds
Hawthorn Hill Farm
Jardin des gourmands
Jardins d’arlington
Jardins de l’Arpenteuse
Jardins d’En Haut
Jardins du Coeur et des Racines
Keewatin Farm
Kootenay Sprouts
Kym’s Plants
La ferme aux légumes d’hiverts
La Ferme Blais
La Ferme des Pensées Sauvages
La Fibre Végétale
La JoualVert
La Shop à légumes
La Terre des Anciens inc.
Le Champ de la Voisine
Le manoir
Le Noyau
Le Verger Labonté
Lecon Holsteins
Les aliments Naturels l’Eau Vive inc
Les Champs Marins
Les Fermes Belvache inc.
Les Fermes Erskine Farms
Les jardins de la Grelinette
Les jardins de l’écoumène
Les Jardins de Sophie
Les Jardins d’Inverness
Les jardins diversibio
Les Jardins du Lac
Les Jardins Élémentaires
Les Jardins Glenelm
L’Idéel snc
Limoges Forage & Grasses Ltd.
Living Harmony Farm
Maida Vale Farm
Merci la terre
Miels des 3 Rivières
Milky Whey Farms
Moulin A.Coutu Inc
Naturally Organic Farm
Négondos, vignoble biologique
ODA Haute-Gatineau
Pantagruel Traiteur
Pignon Voyageur
Plainfield Heritage Farm
Pranasens Inc
Queen Beet Farm
RDR grains et semences
Récolte Buissonnièrr
RedWillow Organics Inc
Roots Up! Vegetable Farm
Rucher Apis
Silver Rapids Farm
SpindleTree Gardens Inc.
Spray Creek Ranch
Stride Ahead Equestriun
Sunflo Dairy
Sweet Soil Organic Farm
Terre fruitière, ferme biologique
The Homestead Organic Farm
Thousand Hills Ranch
Tourne-Sol Cooperative Farm
Verger bio d’Oka
Watters Farms
Weir Bros. Farm
Whole Village Co-operative Farm
Woodshutt organics
Wooldrift Farm
YAL Natrural Farm