National | Letters

Letter to Minister – Urgent Action needed to stop GM alfalfa seed sales

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 9A6


Dear Minister MacAulay,

Re: Urgent Action needed to stop sale of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa seed in Canada and to bring in border controls to prevent importation of contaminated conventional alfalfa seed

It has come to our attention that the Monsanto licensee, Forage Genetics International (FGI), has signalled it may begin selling genetically modified alfalfa seed in Eastern Canada in April 2016. In a letter dated March 9, 2016 FGI said it is “considering the potential for Spring 2016 commercial seed sales” of a genetically modified herbicide-tolerant, low lignin stacked trait variety of alfalfa in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. (see letter, attached)


Canadian farmers strongly oppose the introduction of GM alfalfa into Canada for many reasons. Alfalfa is a cross-pollinating perennial and an extremely valuable forage crop. Several alfalfa markets are highly sensitive to GM contamination, including certified organic, seed, pellet and hay exports to Europe, China and Japan, as well domestic seed production and feed for organic livestock and dairy.

Because of its biological characteristics, it is not possible for GM alfalfa to “co-exist” with conventional alfalfa. The 2013 report, The Inevitability of Contamination from GM Alfalfa Release in Ontario: The case for preventing the introduction of Roundup Ready Alfalfa, explains in detail why this is the case. (see ) The variety FGI proposes to sell will also have a second GM trait that enables hay harvest at a later date, increasing the bloom time and hence, the unwanted spread of GM traits by cross-pollination.

Recently there was a media report of an Alberta seed producer who suspects that the conventional Foundation seed he purchased from the USA was contaminated with herbicide-tolerant GM varieties. A significant number of the plants did not die when he sprayed the field with glyphosate to terminate the stand. We are also aware that there is widespread GM contamination of conventional alfalfa in the USA.

For these reasons, we call upon you to take immediate action to prevent FGI from selling any genetically modified alfalfa seed in Canada and to also undertake immediate border control measures to prevent importation of conventional alfalfa seed contaminated with GM varieties.


Jan Slomp

cc: Jean-Claude Poissant, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
cc: Pat Finnigan, Chair, Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food
cc: Ruth Ellen Brosseau, Vice Chair, Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food
cc: Chris Warkentin, Conservative Ag Critic
cc: Elizabeth May, Green Party Ag Critic